Not only was Buck 65 kind enough to help me work on the last song that was recorded for “Copper Gone” (a most important song for the album and something I will explain in full detail soon,) but he was also gracious enough to put together the following write-up for the album. We’ve worked together a lot through the years and, consider how much I look up to him as an artist and a writer, I’m beyond honored:
Sage Francis has a new album. It’s called “Copper Gone” and it’s incredible. It’s the kind of record that smacks you in the face first time you hear it. But what makes the record rare is that the more you listen to it, the deeper it will work its way into your bones. Most records are one or the other: it dazzles at first but then the excitement wears off or it’s what is referred to as a “grower” – it doesn’t grab you right away, but it grows on you over time with close listens. This record does both.
The album kicks off with the perfect opener – a song called “Pressure Cooker”. It immediately answers the question Sage Francis fans have had on their minds: “what took so long?” And it also puts the high expectations to bed the second the beat drops. The song grabs you by the throat and delivers intensity unmatched by any Sage classic. The beat is gigantic. The rapping is nimble and powerful. Sage’s confidence and personality are on full display. It’s the kind of song that gets your heart rate up. It will probably inspire many intense workouts for listeners in the gym.
“Pressure Cooker” is a total blitz of everything you want from a rap song. It comes at you hard and furious. It’s a class ‘A’ headbanger. The intro of the next song, “Grace”, gives you a few seconds to catch your breath, but then the beat drops and the attack starts up again. But what strikes you this time, even as you’re getting the snot kicked out of you, is how beautiful it is. It’s a beautiful song. But the beauty doesn’t inspire a careful, restrained performance from Sage, it inspires him to pry his rib cage open so you can watch his heart burn furiously. It happens again and again on Copper Gone – on songs like “Over Under” (you win a prize if you can get through the song without saying “holy shit!”), “Vonnegut Busy” (which sounds like it was written on the sky) and “Dead Man’s Float” (an instant classic that will be sung by Sage’s congregation for the next 500 years).
It takes a rare kind of real man to write a song like “Thank You”. Sage is the only rapper in the world who could have done it. Listening to it, it’s easy to imagine him backed up by a full symphony orchestra. For the next 10-30 years, people will approach Sage after shows and say ““The Set Up” saved my life, man.” People will tattoo lyrics from “ID Thieves” on their bodies. And “Make ‘Em Purr” is the most moving thing he’s ever written. Tears will be shed.
The first few listens of “Copper Gone” will dazzle and pulverize you. This is the full-on rap record you’ve been waiting to hear for a long time. It’s skillful, it’s tough, it’s funny, it’s sad, it’s beautiful, it’s conflicted… The first thing that occurs to you after the initial shock is that you can’t call this record a return to the form of records like “Personal Journals” or “A Healthy Distrust” because this record is even stronger than anything Sage has done before. Then it occurs to you that no 20 year old kid (not even a 20 year old Sage) could have written this record.
This is the sound of a grown man with grey in his beard and mortgage payments kicking the living crap out of any 20 year old rapper that hasn’t lived enough to know his ass from his elbow. Sage has an amazing (and very appealing) ability to be humble, vulnerable and self-effacing while sounding supremely confident and indomitable at the same time. And it should give us all hope that a rap record that is first and foremost dope as hell can be made by an honest man who’s pushing 40.
Copper Gone matters.
- Buck 65