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Sage Francis
Self Fighteous

Joined: 30 Jun 2002
Posts: 21790
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Rating: 4.5

While the ‘gifted white rapper’ isn’t quite as rare a beast as it used to be, it is still a singular animal that could win battle rap contests while sporting a Metallica t-shirt, that could float effortlessly between the worlds of poetry slams and underground hip-hop shows, that could maintain any measure of credibility while spitting lines referencing “Choose Your Own Adventure” books. But then again, there truly is no other artist in music today quite like Sage Francis, who dropped his latest album Human the Death Dance on May 8th via Epitaph Records.

Fans of Francis know that, even at his worst, he brings the cleverest of clever wordplay and Human the Death Dance is no exception. His lyrics are conversational, approachable, intellectual, and relatable. They add an almost unseen layer to his albums; every time you listen to it, you catch a different witty metaphor or personal anecdote. For the instrumental half of the equation, his beats are - again, as always - electric, energetic and eclectic. “Got Up This Morning” is country-fied, “Black Out on White Night” sports a plaintive string section while “Call me Francois” even brings a 70’s b-movie sci-fi sound. The beats inform the mood as much as the lyrics, moods that run the gamut from playful to somber. Throughout whatever stylistic detour the album takes, Francis keeps it all together with his emotionally honest and singular style of lyricism.

Going for a more personal vibe than his last release (2005’s politically charged A Healthy Distrust), a large chunk of Human the Death Dance focuses on a past romance. The opener “Underground for Dummies” finds Francis pontificating on his career trajectory, and there’s even a track written as a direct response to the MC’s 2006 robbery in Amsterdam (“Clickety Clack”). Francis sidesteps falling into the trap of egomaniacal self-importance and braggadocio that weighs down other qualified rappers (Jay-Z, I’m looking at you) by keeping it “warts and all” real as opposed to simply biggin’ up himself for 16 tracks. Sage Francis doesn’t make hip-hop only meant for people who love hip-hop; it’s for people who love music.

--Jeff Lata
Post Sat Sep 15, 2007 5:06 pm
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