Joined: 26 Jul 2004
|Clash Music's "Literary Series" feat. Sage Francis
Rapper’s literary favourites…
MIKE DIVER / FEATURES / May 15th, 2014
With almost 20 years’ experience in the rap game, Sage Francis has seen his share of highs and lows, experiences that continue to shape him, as both man and artist. A founder of the Strange Famous label, based in Rhode Island, Francis properly made his name, in the UK at least, as a part of the Anticon roster, with his ‘Personal Journals’ LP of 2002 greedily drinking in critical acclaim. And plenty more has followed.
June 2nd sees the release of Francis’s fifth studio album, ‘Copper Gone’, via Speech Development – the British label operated by Scroobius Pip. (Strange Famous handles stateside matters.) The album follows his 2013 mixtape, ‘Sick To D(eat)h’, from which ‘Blue’ (below) is taken.
Here, Sage takes us through some of his favourite reads as part of Clash’s regular Their Library series....
Q: What is your favourite book and why?
A: I don't really have a favorite book. However, the first novel I
read as an adult, outside of a school setting, was "It" by Stephen
King. I was a very slow reader at the time so I think it took me the
whole year to read. The television series made me want to read the
book and I'm really glad that I did. Especially since the TV version
conveniently skipped over the part where all the kids have an orgy
inside of the cave. That shit actually made me cry. I'm not sure if
that's a normal reaction, but that part was so deeply symbolic and
powerful. It was also important for me to realize how certain tools
and techniques are specific to books, just as certain styles and
techniques work best for a rap song or for script writing. I had to
learn how to switch the gears in my head to experience books after all
the years of school assignments made me feel like reading was just a
Q: What other authors do you like?
A: Kurt Vonnegut of course. I own a lot of HST and Bukowski books. My
current favorite is Tom Robbins. Thankfully a fan of mine threw
"Fierce Invalids Home from Hot Climates" at me while I was performing
on stage in Santa Ana, CA last year. It sent me down a Tom Robbins
rabbit hole. I've read four of his books now and I have a few more
sitting on deck. It depresses me that there's a finite number of books
from the authors I love so I try to pace myself.
Q: What draws you to certain books?
A: When a book isn't literally being thrown at me, I'm mostly drawn to
books that get me invested in the journey and development of several
characters. I like feeling invested in the idea of who they are and
what they represent. I think my favorite type of book is one that
explains a truth, philosophy or ideology to me in the form of
fictional story. It allows more room for deeper truths to be told.
"The Things They Carried" by Tim O'Brien explains this type of thing
really well. I've noticed that some people think that fictitious
stories are a waste of time because, like, who wants to read something
that's completely made up? As if the "truth" they read in non-fiction
books aren't clouded by non-truths or bold faced lies. To those people
I say, "Oh. Who's being naive, Kay?"
Q: Have you ever discovered a real lost classic? What is it and why?
A: I'm not sure if you're asking about a book that's already
considered a classic, or a book I've read that I think should be
considered a classic. I was a late bloomer when it comes to reading
books so I'm actually catching up on all the old classics. I recently
read the Count of Monte Cristo and devoured the hell out of it. It
took some dedication to get through the slower parts, but the pay off
Q: Do your literary influences have a direct impact on your songwriting?
A: I don't think so. A lot of things inspire my songwriting, but not
many things influence it. However, if I started writing books I
definitely think I would be influenced by the authors I've been
reading. I'll just need to make sure I read a lot more books from
different types of writers so I can figure out my own voice and/or
style. I'd like to give it a shot at some point.
Q: What are you reading at the moment?
A: I'm currently reading "Bad Science" by Ben Goldacre.
Q: What is the first book you remember reading as a child?
A: The first book I remember reading is probably "Where the Wild
Things Are." I distinctly remember getting caught up in the
illustrations. But when I learned how to read, the first book I
remember loving is Judy Blume's "Superfudge." The first big book I
read was "Communion" by Whitley Strieber. It was dry in a lot of
sections and very difficult to get through, but my fascination with
aliens kept me going. I remember handing in a book report for it and
my 5th grade teacher was less than thrilled.
Q: Did you make good use of your library card as a child / teenager?
A: I can't say that I did. In fact, the only time I used the library
in school was when I needed to do research for papers. In college I
used the library to get internet access. I love being inside of
libraries though. At this point, I love them even more when there are
no computers around.
Q: Have you ever found a book that you simply couldn't finish?
A: Haha, well...yeah. I'm not a great reader. There are several books
on my shelf that are half finished. One book that annoyed me so much
that I threw it away is "Pygmy" by Chuck Palahniuk. I had heard so
much about "Choke" and "Fight Club", both of which I still intend on
reading, but while I was in an airport I saw "Pygmy" was a new
release. I tried my best to enjoy it, but the narration style.
Q: Do you read book reviews?
A: I don't check out book reviews before reading anything. However,
sometimes I will check out the reviews once I'm finished a book to see
if other people feel the same way I do or if they have different
perspectives. Reviews are fun to read in general. I book a lot of
hotels and I always love reading 1 star hotel reviews online. That's a
goldmine of material.
Q: Would you ever re-read the same book?
A: No, but I definitely plan on it. I keep my favorite books sitting
on the bookshelf so that I can always go back to them when I feel like
Q: Have you ever identified with a character in a book? Which one and why?
A: I identify with almost every character in every book I read. That's
probably common. What good is a book if you can't identify with the
character on some level? Maybe I take it too far though. I read Ayn
Rand's "Atlas Shrugged" so I could get a better understanding of the
ideology that Republicans masturbate to. In the process, I found
myself identifying with almost all of the characters. It's silly
though. Rand paints the liberals as do-nothing leeches of the system
while the billionaires are hard working engineers. I suppose that book
and "Celestine Prophecy" are the two books I went into with a general
understanding of why people love/hate them.
Q: Do you read one book at a time or more than one?
A: I have a few books going at once, but there's always the main book
that I plow through while the others get picked up from time to time.
There's typically one or two books that I keep in my bathroom. Just
for shits and giggles.
Fri May 16, 2014 3:57 pm
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