Hypocrisy Is The Greatest Luxury

Disposable Heroes Of Hiphoprisy

4th And Broadway / Island Records, 1992


REVIEW BY: Sean McCarthy


Protest albums are notorious for showing their age. All you have to do to prove this is pick up your average protest album of the '60s and give it a spin today. When the dust settles and most of the issues covered by the artists (Vietnam, Kent State) are delt with, not much is left to gnaw on musically. There're some exceptions to the rule, however. Case in point with the sole full length album from The Disposable Heroes Of Hiphoprisy, Hypocrisy Is The Greatest Luxury. With lyric and even music skills to rival fellow political rappers Public Enemy, Hypocrisy falls into my top five all time favorite rap albums made.

Head writer and rapper Michael Franti came up with some of the most innovative wordplaying in rap music and even rock music on this album, be it addressing how blacks are portrayed in the media and how we buy into the media's perceptions on "Fameous And Dandy (Like Amos And Andy)" or how the cycle of violence comes back to haunt an attacker on "Language Of Violence". The album could have coasted on the strength of lyrics alone.my_heart_sings_the_harmony_web_ad_alt_250

Couple of points to back me up.. "The psychic plastic surgery begins to take effect/As our souls watch astounded/Our characters floundered", "Exxon and on and on/The ministers of double speak", "I would tell you that music is the expression of emotion / And that politics is merely the decoy of perception"

Luckily, there's enough talented musicians to back up the complex lyrics. Along with your usual samples, the Disposables drop some pretty mean percussion beats down, through use of sheet metal and steel drums. I saw these guys open up for U2 for their Zoo TV tour in 1992, and they blew me away.

Over the last five years though, the album shows some signs of aging. The "'George Bush must go" sentiment of a couple of songs is obviously dated. The thoughtful "The Winter Of The Long Hot Summer", a song about the Gulf War, also shows some weakness now.

Still, when Franti begins to observe the social problems around us, he still is right on target. "Television-The Drug Of A Nation", their biggest hit, is more timely than ever in the era of murdered beauty pageant queens and celebrity court cases. Franti even points the finger at himself in the jazz-fused "Music And Politics".

One of the many highlights of this album comes with a truly original cover of the Dead Kennedys' "California Uber Alles". With one of the dopest (I know, it sounds stupid for a white guy to say that) intros I've heard to a song. "I am your governor Pete Wilson ya know/The baddest governor to ever grab a mike and go BOOM!"

It's too bad these guys couldn't stick around to do a couple more albums. What we are left with is this great gem and a couple of collaborations with other artists. If you're interested, the Disposables did a collaboration with writer William S. Burroughs on one of his spoken word albums, well worth checking out. For starters though, pick up Hypocrisy Is The Greatest Luxury - an album from one of the groups that mattered in the 90s.

Rating: B+

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© 1997 Sean McCarthy and The Daily Vault. All rights reserved. Review or any portion may not be reproduced without written permission. Cover art is the intellectual property of 4th And Broadway / Island Records, and is used for informational purposes only.