I am not a rap fan and have owned very few rap albums over the years. However, “Hypocrisy Is the Greatest Luxury”, the debut album by The Disposable Heroes of Hiphoprisy, is one that I have never tired of, an album whose politics remain relevant thirty years later. It was released on March 3, 1992. It’s not just because it’s Industrial/Hiphop that I like it.
“Satanic Reverses” is about the fight for progress against a system designed to protect the powerful and hypocritical.
“Famous and Dandy (Like Amos and Andy)” criticizes the stereotyping of Black men in the media, and how some are willing to live up to those stereotypes for the sake of fame.
“Television, the Drug of the Nation” is the most famous and standout song on the album. It was everywhere in 1992, used on many TV programs as criticism of the medium. I wonder what Franti would have said about the social media companies had he written the song today.
“Language of Violence” is a condemnation of homophobic violence, and of the organized violence of the US prison system.
“The Winter of the Long Hot Summer” was written about Bush Sr.’s first “Gulf war”, though it was just as relevant during the second and the US’s 20 year occupation of Iraq and Afghanistan. Oil and other companies profitted while ex-soldiers dealt with the consequences.
“Hypocrisy Is the Greatest Luxury” and “Music and Politics”, about the search for commercial success of the public versus personal failings with those closest to us.
“Everyday Life Has Become a Health Risk”, obviously an environmental song.
“INS Greencard A-19 191 500” uses recordings from the US government snitch line, edited and altered from the original messages, but showing the real intent behind the phone line.
“Socio-Genetic Experiment”, a semi-autobiographical story about a Black man of mixed ancestry growing up in the US.
“Financial Leprosy”, a condemnation of conspicuous consumerism and how it keeps people poor.
“California über alles” is a cover of the Dead Kennedys song, with help from Jello Biafra. Performed in 1992, it was rewritten about Pete Wilson, not Jerry Brown as in the original.
“Water Pistol Man” sounds like a response to Billy Bragg’s “The Passion” (from Bragg’s 1986 album “Talking With The Taxman About Poetry”). Franti mentions Bragg by name in the song, and quotes the lyrics.
Sadly, the group only made two albums before disbanding. Vocalist Michael Franti, who is an ardent socialist and human rights activist, went on to found the group Spearhead.
Here is the album on a youtube playlist:
I know essentially nothing about hiphop, but even little old whitebread me remembers hearing Television, the Drug of the Nation…