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Sage interview with Uptown Magazine

Personal politics

Rhode Island rapper Sage Francis isn’t afraid to speak his mind

Mike Sherby
from Uptown Magazine

The first piece of advice any budding writer will likely hear is ‘write what you know.’ It’s hackneyed, but there’s truth behind it. Take Sage Francis, for instance. The Rhode Island rapper has made a career of airing his personal demons onstage and in his music.

Opening up your life to a crowd of strangers would be enough to scare the pants off of most people, but Francis says he doesn’t think twice about it.

“It’s very easy for me. I started writing in the fourth grade, and even back then it was just a lot of confessional stuff,” he says. “The kind of stuff you wouldn’t speak openly about in any kind of normal circumstance, and that’s why it went to the pen, because it seemed like that was the place for it.”

Apart from examining his own life, Francis also focuses a critical lens on the world at large. In his hands, words become weapons he uses to attack the hypocrisy, greed and corruption that he sees in the world around him.

In September, Francis released the song Conspiracy to Riot over the Internet. The track is part of a fundraising campaign for Jared Paul, a journalist who was arrested during the Republican National Convention, which was held in St. Paul, Minn., earlier that month.

Francis says Paul, as well as hundreds of others, were arrested and held without reason by overzealous police officers.

“It got minimal press, definitely not the amount of press it deserved,” Francis says. “The fervor being about the political candidates, people’s rights took a back seat. And that’s really unfortunate, but expected at this point.”

As a student at the University of Rhode Island, Francis studied journalism. He credits this with helping open his eyes to the inner workings of news media – a medium he has an uneasy relationship with.

“You’re not really getting a bunch of information. It’s just a lot of people recycling the same stories, and repeating it over and over for weeks at a time,” he says. “It’s just what they all decide and they keep reeling people in, chained in, and that’s having a negative effect on their purposes. As media outlets, they should be there to keep the government in check and to inform people in order for us to make appropriate decisions as citizens of a capitalist country.”

Francis is currently crossing Canada with political punk act Rise Against as part of its Appeal To Reason tour. This will be his first time touring Canada, and he’s curious to see how fans will respond to his music.

“If they’re politically active, then they’ll take to the material I talk about in my music,” he says. “But if they’re so insular as to reject anything that isn’t in the punk rock medium, then we’ll have a problem. But I’ve had the same problem with hip hop crowds before.”

Dec 05

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