Sage Francis is widely considered one of our generation’s greatest lyricists. His gifted wordplay creates vivid narratives to instigate as well as inspire, but since it often derives from an accumulation of public disdain and personal turmoil, it’s made abundantly clear that there’s no throne to watch here.
Dubbed as the “forefather of indie-hop,” Francis originally earned acclaim in the early 2000′s by winning the most highly coveted titles of the emcee battle circuit. With little to no funding, Francis sustained himself by selling his innovative “Sick of” mixtapes, all made by hand on the floor of his Providence, RI apartment. These were essentially bootleg compilations full of select recordings from his 12” vinyl singles, demo sessions, live performances and radio freestyles. The popularity of these tapes birthed Strange Famous Records (SFR); a meager, one-man operation in 1999.
Despite having no official distribution, Francis’ unique brand of music spread like wildfire via the advent of file sharing networks. This resulted in him attaining a massive cult-like following around the world, creating a demand for his albums which was too high for him to accommodate all on his own. The bigger labels took note and stepped in to join the ride. With his first studio album, Personal Journals (2002,) Francis daringly set aside the more boastful side of rap by catering to his poetic leanings and scathing socio-political commentary. This gamble paid off as the album was hailed an instant classic by the media and fans alike.
By 2005 Sage Francis was the first hip-hop artist signed to Epitaph Records and soon became one of the highest selling independent artists of his genre. Rather than abandon his day-to-day grind at SFR, he channeled all of his newfound resources into it, allowing the label to expand in staff as well as roster. This was yet another risky move considering how other indies of the sort were jumping ship thanks to the music industry imploded on itself around that time. Now in 2013, with all contractual obligations fulfilled, Sage Francis is finally back home at SFR and gearing up to defeat the odds once more. Storming the castle while others watch the throne.