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forgot what this interview is for. 2/20/04
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Sage Francis
Self Fighteous

Joined: 30 Jun 2002
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forgot what this interview is for. 2/20/04  Reply with quote  

interview by Tim

--How’s the tour going?

"Extremely well. Strange but exciting and successful."

--How receptive have people been to the “fuck Clear Channel” idea?

"I have only heard one person bitch about it and he had his head so far up his ass that I took it as a compliment."

--What kinds of people come out?

"My fanbase is so diverse at this point. The female contingent is larger than it used to be, and people from all different backgrounds are in attendance. It's great. I like how polarized the crowd gets sometimes. Some of my material gets reaction from one side of the crowd and there's crickets on the other side, then its vice versa."

--Any especially good/bad responses?

"I lost my voice in NYC because we sold out the club and we went all out. The next day we played Philly and my voice was gone. I got some negative feedback from that show because my set was so short, but I could only perform for as long as my body would allow. I really pushed my limits on that one. The most insane shows were in NYC, Bolatimore and last night in Austin, which was my favorite."

--How has the hip-hop community reacted?

"The knuckle head hiphop kids don't like anything with guitar so as soon as they see I am up on stage with two acoustic guitars they go into pissy mode. The more cultured hiphop folks have shown a great appreciation for the new style and sound of things. Knuckle head punk rockers don't like when I rap with a DJ. You can't please everyone, ya know? Haha. I just have to find ways to keep myself interested in what I am doing. All I really want to do is do spoken word most of the time anyway."

--I know you worked on “Hope” for a while. Did the Clear Channel thing crystallize while you were working on the record, or did it come later?

"The Fuck Clear Channel Tour concept came a couple months after HOPE was already released. I didn't want to tour when the record first came out because I needed a rest. Autumn in New England is not to be missed 4 years in a row."

--“Hope” is pretty different from “Personal Journals”. Like you said in the disc’s liner notes, it’s your “hip-hop book report”. I love it because it captures the hip-hop fan in you—it celebrates all the amazing and idiotic shit that’s happened in the last couple of decades ("west coast/you ain't got no style . . ."). It's like a soundtrack in a lot of ways. Yet most of your references are from a period when hip-hop wasn’t, or was in the process of becoming, the kind of institution that it is today. The title “Hope” suggests exactly that, but media and communications conglomerates like Clear Channel are obviously a threat to any creative medium (though that’s probably why there’s so much mind-blowing underground stuff right now). Where do you see the genre going, and how do you see these media giants effecting consumers and artists, and the collective approach to hip-hop or music in general?

"That was a great explanation. I don't see hiphop as a genre anymore. It is not communal in that way, so I can't speak of it as a whole. Where do I see hiphop going? Nowhere and usual. There will be a few exceptional artists that poke their head out of the woodwork and make a difference. There will be a few business men who dictate what hiphop the majority of the world is exposed to."

--In my experience, politicized shows tend to zone people out or piss people off. I’ve had plenty of friends who’ve been like “man, fuck that—I didn’t pay money to hear that shit,” and I’ve also had friends hip to social issues who thought discussing them within the context of a show was treason. Americans are probably the only people on the planet to feel this way. How do you walk the line b/t ethics and entertainment to expose the ideas you’re talking and rhyming about without alienating people?

"I agree. I don't go to a show so that an artist can scream their politics at me. If they were creative people they would put it in a song and be clever and/or artistic about it. It is a rare moment that I stand on stage and just talk about my beliefs. I might drop a couple lines here and there about what is happening in the world, but basically I there to bring my music to life."

--In the last couple of decades, politically-minded music has either lacked comedy or overindulged in it. You’re either really serious or you’re really ironic. You manage to capture a pretty diverse range of sensibilities in your lyrics, but your sense of humor is something that always sticks in my mind. How has comedy informed your writing over the years?

"I have been forced to laugh at myself so many times that I first have to see the irony or sarcasm in everything I do before the straight face consumes my life. Laughter is a reaction I love, so I stay open to that option. Look at me, mom, all that face paint finally worked out."

--Most hip-hop artists hip to politics and social issues aren’t willing to make the leap from a recording to reality. There’s been some, like the Black August people and KRS in NY, Kid Frost in LA—shit, even Master P renovated his old projects in New Orleans. It’s an issue that seems more about class than race, but so far you’re one of the only white MCs I can recall (Adam Yauch doesn’t count here) who’s begun to broach the issues. Why do you think that is?

"Man, I really have no clue. Pussies too concerned with looking cool maybe."

--How has Providence shaped your ideas about hip-hop?

"Being from Providence has kept me open to different styles of hiphop. I wasn't caged into one style the way people from NYC or California are sometimes. I remember when some Boston rappers used to sound like west coast gangsters. I never went to that extreme, but that's a good example of how strange shit can get when you aren't in a place with an established sound or style."

--Until recently, white people have always been thought of as hip-hop consumers instead of producers. Even though this is a bit of a misnomer, what’s it like being on the other side of the equation?

"It is a priveledge to be able to express myself in any way possible. My love for hiphop and my understanding of it left me predisposed to being a rapper. Never really thought much about it."

--What’s next on the agenda—recording or otherwise.

"After the Fuck Clear Channel Tour I am going to tour Europe with Joe Beats and my band, along with Prince Po and Danger Mouse. Then I will record my next solo album for Epitaph Records. There are a few collaborations in the works, but mentioning that shit makes me feel dirty."
Post Sat Feb 21, 2004 11:05 pm
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