60 ALBUMS @ 60 : #28


The Disposable Heroes of Hiphoprisy – Hypocrisy Is The Greatest Luxury (1992)

There’s maybe a subliminal reason as to why the debut album by The Disposable Heroes of Hiphoprisy features so high on the rundown.

It’s all to do with me really being quite late to hip-hop, as mentioned when previously writing about Beastie Boys.  There are very few albums from the genre that were bought at the time of release, and thus they are, under the self-imposed rules, unable to be considered for inclusion.

Jacques the Kipper opened up one of his 1992 mixtapes with this track:-

mp3:  The Disposable Heroes of Hiphoprisy  – Television, The Drug Of The Nation

He handed it to me at work one day.  I played it on the train journey back from Edinburgh to Glasgow.  Actually, that’s a lie.  I played the opening track on the mixtape and then hit rewind so that I could hear it again.  And then I repeated the manoeuvre a couple more times.

The next day, I bought the album on CD, thus making sure in this instance that I was quick to not miss out on what was surely going to be the next sensation within the hip-hop genre.

The album spent just three weeks in the UK charts.  It’s two accompanying singles initially managed just a combined three weeks in the UK charts, all outside the Top 50, albeit a re-released ‘Television’ later in the year would hit #44, but sadly what would surely have been a dynamic appearance on Top of The Pops never happened.

Of course there are ‘better’ and more important/influential hip-hop albums out there, some of which I did buy at the time – for instance Three Feet High and Rising by De La Soul – that haven’t made the rundown, (and apologies if anyone was waiting to see what number it was going to come in at), but Hypocrisy Is The Greatest Luxury was on very heavy rotation throughout the whole of 1992,  and indeed beyond, and when it found its way onto the shortlist, I just found myself looking back to that time and coming to the realisation that the issues which made Michael Franti so angry and frustrated still haven’t gone away; indeed, on the back of Trump’s four years in power, many of them are in even more evidence today than they were more than three decades ago.

The cherry on top of the cake is their take on the Dead Kennedys classic.  They actually got to perform a version of it on UK television.



The Disposable Heroes of Hiphoprisy weren’t around with us for all that long, nor did they make all that much in the way of music. A group that aimed to fuse the rap of Public Enemy and the beat poetry of Gil Scott-Heron was an exciting concept to consider and indeed for a while it really did seem they were going to be the ones who really took rap to a wider audience, thanks in part to the fact that they were happy enough to go on the road and play support to the likes of U2, Nirvana and Rage Against The Machine among others.

They emerged out of San Francisco, coming to the fore at a time when America was pursuing an increasingly right-wing agenda that was creating and alienating a far larger underclass whose responses were threatening to get increasingly violent. Indeed the greatest awareness of the band coincided with the period just after the extensive rioting in Los Angeles with their debut (and only) LP Hypocrisy Is the Greatest Luxury being released that same year of 1992. It was an album that addressed many social issues, including racism, homophobia, sexism and urban poverty. It also, rather timely, included a blistering cover version of California Über Alles, the Dead Kennedys song which many media commentators had referred to in their analysis of what had caused things to go so badly wrong in LA and the wider state.

The band was really two individuals, Michael Franti (vocals, production, misc. instruments) and Rono Tse (drums, percussion, programming), assisted on stage and in the studio by a range of talents. But Franti was on whom most attention was focussed. For one, he was a striking looking individual, standing at six-foot six inches. His life story was genuinely fascinating. He was incredibly intelligent, articulate and frank in his opinions, all of which made him a great interviewee no matter the media. His anger was a quiet, simmering and seemingly non-threatening type – where others rapped hard about injustices shouting and demanding action, Michael Franti preferred to ensure his  words could be heard, understood and, above all, to be thought about by those doing the listening.

The DHOH album is an extraordinary piece of work made possible by a wide number of contributory elements including sampling and scratching amidst playing that incorporated jazz, soul, AOR rock and pop. Franti made great use of his rich baritone singing voice but sometimes his words were softly spoken in a resigned sort of way, with more than a hint of cynicism in the tone of delivery.

Their best and most enduring song was released as a single and deployed as the opening track. It’s an unparalleled attack on mass-media brainwashing, written and delivered in a pre-internet age, but whose message still resonates 25 years on. Possibly more so in an era of so-called fake news and alternative facts:-

mp3 : Disposable Heroes of Hiphoprisy – Television, the Drug of the Nation

The heading for today’s posting is taken from a line in that song.

But as I mentioned earlier, there were all sorts of social issues addressed within the album whose release was timely as it came at a time when many music journalists and media commentators were questioning whether rap should be taken seriously when so many of its exponents were proud of their homophobic and/or misogynist lyrics and whose view of all issues, literally, came down to black and white. Franti, while not ignoring race issues, was much more focussed on class divisions across American society, and again this seemed new and fresh in rap music, albeit he was merely the latest a what was already a long line of highly aware political protest singers.

mp3 : Disposable Heroes of Hiphoprisy – Satanic Reverses
mp3 : Disposable Heroes of Hiphoprisy – Language of Violence
mp3 : Disposable Heroes of Hiphoprisy – Music and Politics
mp3 : Disposable Heroes of Hiphoprisy – California Über Alles

The album is more essential than disposable and one that I feel every music fan should have either a copy of or access to. The duo, realising that they would probably never be able to top the debut, went their separate ways in 1994, with Franti forming Spearhead with whom he still records and performs to this day. Rono Tse, judging by a lack of product on Discogs post-DHOH, appears to have drifted quickly out of the music industry.