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Sage interview and article at Metaphormag.com
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Sage Francis
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Joined: 30 Jun 2002
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Sage interview and article at Metaphormag.com  Reply with quote  

http://metaphormag.com/people-sagefrancis.htm


Published: May 7, 2007 Metaphor Media, LLC
Sage Francis is only 'Human' as he walks tightrope between poetry and rap

By MATT PEIKEN
editor-publisher

Sage Francis still remembers the names - nerd rap, hick-hop, backpacker - other hip-hoppers have hurled his way since he first picked up a microphone.

"Art fag was the least offensive term of them all, and poetry is one of the main reasons I get that tag," he says. "A lot of that has to do with how vulnerable you make yourself in your music. When they say keep it real in core hip-hop, they only mean that to a point. When I say it, I mean it by sharing, and spoken word helped me do that."

A decade ago, Francis made his way in and out of Providence, R.I., through independent, underground tunnels, and he was the first hip-hopper signed to the punk/hardcore record label Epitaph. He's also among the first and few who have bridged hip-hop to performance poetry, winning credibility and keeping audiences on both ends.

Poetry dances atop the musical underpinnings of his new CD, Human the Death Dance, and Francis seems motivated to reawaken that corner of his crowd to his music. Toward that end, Francis has invited slam poetry icon Buddy Wakefield to perform along his spring tour.

"I don't feel like I have a very strong spoken word following," Francis says. "I'm involved in it - I'll go to the National Poetry Slam and shake hands, kiss babies and check things out, but I don't feel like the stuff I do has made a big enough mark to (make poetry fans) know my music."

Francis modeled his early raps on the political punch of Chuck D and Public Enemy, but his emergence as a rapper and poet came during the mid-90s, on parallel tracks. Francis was a student at Dean College in Franklin, Mass., when he attended his first spoken word performance, catching Patricia Smith, a popular poet and playwright who was later fired as a Boston Globe columnist for fabricating some of the subjects in her newspaper work.

"She didn't use a mic or anything, just walked through the crowd, bellowing, and it was literally one of the most powerful pieces I've seen to date," he recalls. "At the time, I was only doing HH, but my writing was becoming very involved, very intricate, and I automatically saw a relationship between what she was doing and what I was doing. It just opened up these floodgates for me."

Two years later, Francis says, they were on the same plane to Austin, Tex., to compete in the National Poetry Slam. Francis didn't dabble for long in competitive poetry - he now calls slam "the bane of the spoken word world" - but he credits his experiences for honing his writing and, more important, boosting his confidence he could find an audience for rap with both a personal and political consciousness.

He points to his album Personal Journals and a cut called "Inherited Scars," inspired by his sister, who used to cut herself. That kind of personal story, Francis says, doesn't go over well with typical hip-hop audiences.

"If I go to an open-mic hip-hop event and try to execute these ideas, it's like 'ehh.' People want me to battle or dis somebody," he says. "But here was a vulnerable song and shows a lot of self-doubt, and not only is that not really dealt with in hip-hop, I didn't hear any music dealing with this subject matter. And the feedback I got from that song was crazy, people telling me they were going through the same thing."

Human the Death Dance doesn't seem, on the surface, as an album rooted in the spoken word - musical contributions come from Mark Isham, Jolie Holland and Alias, among others. But Francis insists he wouldn't have his following and future as a rapper if not for the years he spent performing poetry.

"I feel like I cut my teeth in all the right places at all the right times and now I can apply it in all the ways that makes sense," says Francis, who also runs his own record label, Strange Famous Records.

"Spoken word and hip-hop are (equally) important to me in what I do, and I feel like I've melded the two," he says. "It's tough to say what I do is or isn't spoken word or hip-hop, because I can perform this stuff a capella and it works just as well as with a beat. When words can retain just as much punch on their own, that's when you know you're a writer."
Post Thu Aug 23, 2007 3:32 pm
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Bandini
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Joined: 01 Jul 2002
Posts: 4669
Location: jerk city
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http://www.strangefamousrecords.com/forum/viewtopic.php?p=583948&highlight=metaphor+magazine#583948

nice repost noob
Post Thu Aug 23, 2007 5:58 pm
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Sage Francis
Self Fighteous


Joined: 30 Jun 2002
Posts: 21596
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aaiiiiight.

However, you should have provided the text in your original post. That's the only way I can archive these things.
Post Thu Aug 23, 2007 6:01 pm
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Bandini
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Joined: 01 Jul 2002
Posts: 4669
Location: jerk city
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yeah I know. sometimes I want to give people their clicks.
Post Thu Aug 23, 2007 6:04 pm
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Sage Francis
Self Fighteous


Joined: 30 Jun 2002
Posts: 21596
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check my science
Post Thu Aug 23, 2007 6:05 pm
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