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interview with some Mantioba Magazine. 11/24/03
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Sage Francis
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Joined: 30 Jun 2002
Posts: 21790
interview with some Mantioba Magazine. 11/24/03  Reply with quote  

It's for a magazine in winnipeg Manitoba called Stylus

Interview conducted by Matt:

I'm sure you've had interest from majors in the past, what does Epitaph
as a medium size label, have to encourage you to put your name on the
dotted line?

"They offered me complete artistic freedom, enjoyable company, a proper paycheck and they handled our dicussions with great respect and integrity. Major Labels came across as scum. As if they were doing ME a favor and I should be souped by their bullshit offers. No thanks."

What do you think tipped off the industry that this underground rap thing might be worth thinking about.

"The droves of white kids."

I've talked to people who commended you on your die hard tour ethic, do you see a direct correlation from the number of shows you play to your mystic rap superhero status?

"I never really calculated it that way so I'm not sure. The only thing I care about is bringing my music to life once I hit the stage. Actually showing people the look on my face when I first wrote the lyrics down on page. Reliving all the things that inspired the songs and showing people that I am immediate and interactive with my music. Perhaps this is mysterious to people who are used to computer programs and robots pacing back and forth on stage, regurgitating the well-calculated call and response routines."

Have you had a plan from the time you started releasing CD-Rs? I
remember the hype surrounding your first *real* album on anticon, it
was like you were stepping out of you diapers when in reality much of
your 12" material and CD-R stuff was of a very high quality. Do you
think liner notes and a glossy cover do a lot for the credibility of an

"Yeah, a barcode all of a sudden makes you official. It's such crap. I remember people used to give me shit about the presentation of my cds because they weren't 'professional' looking. Here I was, making the cd cover, photocopying every single one, cutting each one to size so they fit in the jewel case, burning every single cd and writing my name on the cd itself. It was a labor of love. I put about 10 minutes time into each cd that was sold back then (lets not even talk about the tapes.) And here people are giving me a gasface because my shit isn't shrink wrapped. I'm like, 'Motherfucker...give me that shit back you can't have it now.'
The plan needed to be as simple as this: Get my music out to as many people as possible without looking like a desperate street vendor. I see schleps outside of Fatbeats playing Mr Salesman, trying to trick people into buying their music even though no one has heard of them. They like to call that a 'hustle." A real hustle is putting yourself to work in a way that allows an audience to hear your music and then come to YOU. And that's all I ever had to do. Once I tapped into that audience I was able to quit working at Ben and Jerry's and let art be my focus."

How has your content evolved from the early days. I've read some
interviews where you were having to defend your content shift regarding
sex etc... First part if it's not too personal:

"Hmmm, I'm not quite sure. I just think I am becoming a better writer. The way I manipulate the language is evolving. The manner in which I deal with my life through my lyrics is becoming more vague because it doesn't do shit the other way. I don't really think I have had a content shift regarding sex, but I am much less apt to say the word 'bitch' these days. As I heard Jay-Z explain in his recent MTV interview, 'If people don't reflect their growth and maturity in their music, then they aren't being true to their art.' His legions of followers might have to consider growing up now."

What has changed in your life that would cause such a shift in the content of your lyrics?

"I don't I ever really had a great shift in the content of my lyrics. I just cater to different moods and different presentations. People are complex. I get scared of someone if they only show me one side, because that means they are hiding something and they think they are getting away with it."

What is it like to put your beliefs and convictions out there for
everyone to interpret and judge?

"It's liberating."

You often comment on internet hip-hop culture, especially on the "hope"
record. What are your feelings regarding the obsessive nature of many
internet clicking rap fans?

"They are a bunch of anonymous, blank faces ages 9 and up. I have no concrete opinion of them as a whole. They are a scattered peanut gallery."

how does the fact that your current level of "fame" has come in part
from message boards and the like influence the way you deal with the
more socially challenged fans?

"I used the messageboard to communicate with a large amount of people. I used it to actually COMMUNICATE. Interact. To deal with people. So if my success has come from that, then I applaud myself because it wasn't easy. Most rappers dismiss their audience and smoke a blunt back stage."

Do you keep in touch with who's coming up in the collective underground

"Vaguely. But I get so many demos that they all become one big hiphop group to me with hundreds of cds. It's like this big, white imaginary monster emcee who keeps coming to my show to hand me his demo. I would like to say that I am a fan of his but he is way too inconsistent."

I heard a lot of your fans over the years scof at Joey Beats' Beats.
People felt you outshined him. However in my opinion "hope" is one of
the most honest and true rap albums (production included) that has come
out in a while. Did he get better or did you know something they

"I ALWAYS know something that they don't. Hahaa. I mean, Jesus Christ, as independent as I am as an artist and person, do you think I would have anyone around me who wasn't ESSENTIAL? What is most troubling is that Joe knew that people were sleeping on him and he had to wait for the HOPE album to drop before he could say anything about it. This grinded on his spirit a lot. These beats were hanging around for at least 2 years before our album came out and the fire has always been there. I think he did right by waiting around and letting people front on him before slashing their throats. But...the time between when our first single dropped and when the album dropped must have been torture for the dude. With the 5 year wait did come some growth and development on both of our parts."

Do you still listen to hip hop?

"I certainly do. I've been listneing to more of it lately. I am listening to my old radio shows these days.I wouldn't dare shout any group out though. Fuck you all."

Is slam poetry a different outlet or an additional outlet to rapping?

"Slam poetry literally sickens me these days. I tried sitting through a slam last week and I was grossed out. I got up, kicked a couple chairs over and left. We need to stop talking about 'slam poetry' in particular, and just go back to spoken word. Spoken word is my main passion and it has no boundaries. It does not cater to after school specials. It is the best of outlets for me."

I once saw a video of you in Halifax telling a lady off who questioned
your career as a rapper, I think ghetto blaster rob had it. As funny as
that was, what was your experience in explaining you were going to rap
for a living?

"I never ever explain to anyone that I am a rapper, unless I am trying to be funny. If someone asks me what I do for a living I tell them, 'I am a writer and a performer.' Sometimes, if I feel like they might have follow up questions, I just say, 'I run my own business. I own a record label.'"

Is this music going to exist in it's current format 10 years from now?

"Sure it will. Ten years from now there will be people living in the past, just as you have people NOW acting like its 1986. They do that because its easy to pick an era that is dead. That way you aren't challenged by any new developments in technology or art. People might even be doing it better than we do, but by that point no one will care."

Where would you like to be in 10 years?

"I would like to be in Hawaii with my wife, eating vegetarian makki and playing a piano."
Post Tue Nov 25, 2003 12:42 pm
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