• Beatnigs
  • Television EP (Alternative Tentacles) 1988 
  • The Beatnigs (Insight/Alternative Tentacles) 1988 

On their debut album, this striking San Francisco quintet explodes in a tight and danceable riot of industrial percussion, vocals and tape manipulations. According to an enclosed booklet (“Aural Instruction Manual”), the word “nig” is defined as “a positive acronym…[it] has taken on a universal meaning in describing all oppressed people who have actively taken a stand against those who perpetuate ethnic notions and discriminate on the basis of them.” Assailing “Television” (the medium, not the band), poverty and hunger (“Burritos”), the “CIA” and South Africa (“Control”), the Beatnigs cross Devo, Test Dept. and the Dead Kennedys in a brilliant, original coincidence of extremist musical ideas and radical politics. “Television” was subsequently given a pair of head-spinning remixes by Adrian Sherwood, Gary Clail and Mark Stewart and issued on a four-version 12-inch.

Beatnigs leader Michael Franti went on to front the Disposable Heroes of Hiphoprisy and then Spearhead in the ’90s.

[Ira Robbins]