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A wonderful Sage article by SLC's uwire.com
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Sage Francis
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Joined: 30 Jun 2002
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A wonderful Sage article by SLC's uwire.com  Reply with quote  

http://www.uwire.com/content//topae062807002.html


INTERVIEW: Sage Francis crafting hip-hop with heart

By Dan Fletcher

Daily Utah Chronicle (U. Utah)
06/28/2007


(U-WIRE) SALT LAKE CITY -- It's five nights into a 41-day U.S. tour. You've been packed into a van with faulty brakes and dysfunctional air-conditioning. After recuperating from a sparsely attended show at Long Island, N.Y's Crazy Donkey, this is how Sage Francis finds himself alongside close friends at a local carnival, having what he can only describe as "just a whole bunch of fun."
This is the hip-hop hothead's modus operandi. Pour your heart into a new record. Get in the van. Spit your bullets anywhere and everywhere possible. And never forget that in the end, through good or bad, it's really all about "having fun with your friends."

Paul "Sage" Francis holds degrees in communication and journalism, runs his own record label called Strange Famous, maintains the anti-corporation information database knowmore.org, and just completed work on the soundtrack of a gritty, cop-flick drama dubbed "Pride & Glory," starring Colin Farrell and Edward Norton.

In what little free time he maintains, Sage has managed to craft three of this decade's most sonically and socially relevant underground hip-hop releases: 2002's "Personal Journals," 2005's "A Healthy Disgust" and 2007's "Human The Death Dance."

Sage's hip-hop roots reach much deeper than the new millennium, though. Born in Miami, Fla., and raised in Providence, R.I., the young emcee's course was set on one fateful fourth grade school day when a friend loaned him his first Fat Boys tape.

"When I came up, I had such an intense love for hip-hop because almost all the hip-hop that was out was great," Sage said with the impassioned nostalgia of a war veteran.

The golden era of hip-hop instilled the up-and-coming artist with an unquenchable thirst for anything hip-hop -- even though it was not the most prevalent subculture in rural New England.

Allowance was saved for weekly raids on record store cassette racks, searching for tapes with gold chains on the cover. Bedtimes were pushed back to tape late-night radio shows. "Yo! MTV Raps" dominated TV time. Demos were recorded. Rap battles were fought and won (most notably 1999's Superbowl Battle and 2000's Scribble Jam Championship).

Eventually, Paul's years spent collecting sage wisdom sired Sage Francis.

Each battle fought has honed the now-30-year-old emcee's world-wise perspective.

"As hip-hop gets older and the fans stay young, it becomes a history lesson -- something that needs to be learned about," Francis said of his efforts to inform a new generation of hip-hop heads on their own roots. "I do what I can to tip my hat to the people who influenced me and inspired me."

This dedication to tradition is apparent in each of Sage's endeavors, but he maintains one consistent resolve: to keep hip-hop real.

"Hip-hop has been exploited to such a degree -- these songs about money and girls have blown up way too big," Sage vented. "There's nothing balancing that except the underground, and still the underground isn't bringing anything strong enough to combat it."

Francis radiates a certain sense of humility in his concern for hip-hop's longevity. But while he worries for the impact of the underground, Sage stands as the epitome of its subversive fight.

Discussing this battle before taking stage at Philadelphia's Torcadero, Sage admitted, "Sometimes people make art just to create their own world, to get away from the daily stresses. I'm not that kind of cat. Everything I experience goes down on the page, and I do my best to connect with people out there and hope they can do the same to me. It's an extended dialogue that I have with the world."

Sage's latest statement, Human The Death Dance, lays an old-school swagger a la early hip-hop heroes Public Enemy and KRS-One atop trademark yearnings for sonic and social progressiveness.

This thirst -- the same one that saw a young Paul Francis scouring tape racks and attending Run DMC shows with his mother back in '88 -- was the initial inspiration for Sage's revolutionary-minded record label, Strange Famous Records.

"Strange Famous focuses on artists who are set apart from the pack -- who have something great or special to say," Sage said. "I need my label to be a stamp of approval, as far as this cat is not selling his art out to Nike at the first chance."

As if it's not noble enough to call out modern rappers for seeing the soundtracking of a Nike commercial as a career pinnacle, Sage refuses to simply scratch the surface of our corporate culture.

"There's this mysticism where people spend money and think it just disappears into nowhere," he said. "But it feeds into power."

Sage and close friend Brendan Dolan established knowmore.org in 2000 for this very reason.

Knowmore.org provides profiles of the environmental, humanitarian and social pros and cons of the corporations we support on a daily basis.

"The purpose is to educate consumers and give them access to information on what kind of companies they're feeding their money into," said Sage. "It's tough for people to actually realize that what they purchase has an affect on other things."

In the past, Dolan and Sage have pulled the cards of Bayer for its participation in the holocaust, Nestle for misleading marketing campaigns that lead to infant death in Third World countries and Colgate for its environmental and animal abuse.

Knowmore.org is currently assembling profiles for the entire Fortune 500.

Sage's ultimate goal is to educate through entertainment. That goal is made clear in the rhymes he spits, the records he releases and each and every dollar he spends -- whether it's on carnival rides with friends or grassroots political campaigns.
Post Sat Jun 30, 2007 7:55 pm
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