In all honesty, I’ve always been somewhat ambivalent about Sage Francis. And I’m fully prepared to admit my apathetic role in that lukewarm sentiment. Sage’s stance as rapper-cum-activist is both commendable and, unfortunately, sometimes cumbersome.
It’s probably short-sighted and shallow to say, “It’s just not my thing.” And without indicting myself as some disconnected slacker (because, dude, I totally read books and stuff), I think it takes a certain amount of patience and a certain mind-set to absorb Sage’s intellect and message. He’s smart, literate and high-handed – all of which is either the appeal or turn-off.
But in listening to Human the Death Dance, his new album due on May 8 on Epitaph, I’ve come to appreciate his anger and embrace of the independent/DIY model he champions. Maybe what I’ve mistaken as his resentment is actually his badge of honor. On Underground For Dummies (it’s the jam, y’all), Sage, as is his wont, pits his indie upbringing against mainstream excess, a point he’s hammered home from the beginning:
“Before the Freddie Foxxx conflict with DMX/
around the time when Jay-Z and Nas’ girl had sex/
I used to wake up every morning on a hard wooden floor /
living in Brooklyn with a car I couldn’t afford”
That’s what I think I’ve missed in his music before: It’s personal and real. An everyman role model in rap. He says it himself: “This is hip-hop for the people / stop callin’ it emo / roooaaaah.”
Sage Francis (with live band) comes to the Clubhouse in Tempe on June 12.
Pre-order Human the Death Dance, which comes with a 36-page booklet, an instrumental CD (pre-sales only) and other goodies.
Sage Francis | Underground For Dummies
For the record, my favorite Sage Francis-related project is Hope, the LP by Non-Prophets (Sage and Joe Beats).