Michael Marshall, the Bay Area singer who delivered the still-memorable hook to the 1995 track, returns to correct the record and remind folks that he never stopped making music
On Christmas 2018, director Jordan Peele dropped the trailer for “Us,” which featured a remixed, creep-inducing version of the 1995 Luniz song “I Got 5 on It.” The same day, Michael Marshall watched the clip for the first time from his Bay Area home, which caught him off guard, since it’s his voice that delivers the song’s memorable hook.
The discovery continued what Marshall described as a conflicted 25-year history with the track, which has opened new avenues for the singer (the “Us” resurgence has led to Marshall receiving media coverage from national outlets like the Ringer, along with additional soundtrack work; he also said he's since received production credit from the studio) even as he’s been forced to fight to preserve his creative contributions to it.
“There are so many things I want to get across that have been road blocks for me, and I’m just trying to clean all of those up,” Marshall said by phone from St. Louis, reached in the midst of a string of dates with Slap Frost Revue, a package tour that includes fellow Bay Area artists Equipto, Z-Man, Vocab Slick and DJ True Justice; the tour hits Ace of Cups on Wednesday, Feb. 5. “It seems like a conspiracy. Luniz never asked me to perform [‘I Got 5 on It’] with them. The world has never seen me sing that song with them anywhere. I was in the video for less than two seconds. No one pushed my name or involvement in that song at all, like the voice came from a record they sampled. And it wasn’t like that. I was in there. I helped them write it. … Other artists, when people are used or featured, they talk about it. But they weren’t interested. … And I don’t understand why.”Adjusted for inflation, today the song would actually be “I’ve Got 8.43 on It.” Sign up for our daily newsletter
Now that people are finally talking about his contributions to the track, there are many points Marshall hopes to clean up, the primary being that his music career remains an ongoing pursuit despite the lack of recognition generated by the song, which he still performs every night in concert. The singer said he’s worked as a weed farmer in Mendocino County for the last 11 years, a period in which he has also released seven solo albums.
“Yes, the business has treated me bad,” said Marshall, who largely refrained from touring during those earlier farming years, finally returning to the road on a limited basis in 2017. “But that was years ago and now I’m on the other side of that.”
This rebirth continued with Marshall’s second movie soundtrack appearance of 2019 in “The Last Black Man in San Francisco,” for which he recorded a gorgeous cover of Scott McKenzie’s hippie traditional “San Francisco (Be Sure to Wear Flowers in Your Hair),” injecting it with a weariness and grit that reflects the film’s themes of gentrification and cultural erasure. Give the song a listen below.