Strange Famous Records

Swell’s Top Five Favorite METERMAIDS Collaboooooooos

As we prepare for the December 2 release of the new METERMAIDS album “We Brought Knives” (pre-order your SIGNED CD, Cassette, MP3, T-Shirt, Snapback package here!), emcee Swell has put together his list of his Top 5 collaborations from Metermaid history. Peep:

No reason to beat around the bush.  Here are my favorite collaboration tracks we’ve ever been involved with.

5.  Vultures by Cas One (featuring Bitter Stephens, Prolyphic, Metermaids)

I met Cas for the first time at Prolyphic’s wedding, so it’s fitting that #5 is a Cas song produced by, and featuring, Pro.  I wasn’t familiar with Cas’s music when I met him.  I just knew that within like ten minutes of hanging out with the guy I felt like we had known each other for years.  The icing on the cake, then, was then going back and listening to his shit and realizing that he is dooooooooope.  Prolyphic’s beat is ridiculous as well.  Matter of fact, Prolyphic has been killing it on the production tip recently.  Ladies and gentlemen of the jury, EXHIBIT A.

I’ve never met Bitter Stephens, but I like his raps.  As is typical with Metermaids, we had to record our stuff with a quickness.  As is also typical with Metermaids, after Sentence laid down his part I wished that I had some time to… improve mine.  Oh well.  Live and learn.

4.  Gold Saturn by Illaborate (feauturing Metermaids and Breez)

I think we’ve known Illab since he was literally like 18 years old.  Back in our touring days, whenever we came through to MPLS we played with our boys Illab and NL.  Back then they were in a crew called Dumpstars. We met those dudes through our Red Lake boys Edge and DX.  The shows were always fun as hell.  Man I love MPLS.

Illab is a special kind of cat.  He presents as sort of grumpy initially – I think NL originally told me something like, “yeah Illab is always pissed off”.  But he is one of the coolest, funniest guys I have met in this game.  I’m always excited to get a chance to see him.  They all came through NYC over the spring and we had a fun ass show.  The thing with Illab, though, is that from age 18 he has been MAD GOOD AT RAPPING.  We take a lot of pride in our live show.  I like to get off stage and think that there aren’t a lot of people on our level who are fucking with what we can do on stage.  Illab is fucking with what we can do on stage.  Ha.  And he has been since before he could drink legally.

His first record (which is still in my car from 2008) is dope, his new record (that this song is featured on) is SUPER dope, and who knows what the future holds for this guy.  Also it goes without saying that his boy Breez has a ridiculous 16 on this muhfucka.  Sentence doesn’t have a verse, but is on the hook.

And my first car was actually a Gold Saturn stick shift.  I love to talk about it if you ever see me in person.

3.  Turn It Up by Metermaids (featuring Camp Lo)

This would be higher if I liked my verse more.  This list is meant to be subjective, after all.  I bet Sentence’s Top 5 would look different.  Uptown Saturday Night by Camp Lo is maaaaaaybe one of the greatest hip hop records ever.  Take a producer who has made almost all of my favorite beats – see this, and this, for example – and put him with two of the weirdest and dopest MC’s my teenage brain had ever experienced, and you get still-fucking-great-mad-years-later shit like this.

At the time we were recording Nightlife we shared a manager with Camp Lo.  They were getting back into the game with their Lumdi single, and we were dying to do something with them.  The hip hop gods smiled, and they were down.  Turn It Up is the result.  I love the beat, and love everyone else’s verses except my own.  In writing this, I’m realizing that maybe I have self-esteem issues.  Either way, that’s what keeps this at #3.  Because, come on son.  If you told 15 year old Sean that he would eventually have a song with Camp Lo under his belt, I would have exploded.  We even got to perform it live with them at the Nightlife album release:

Life is amazing and weird, man.

2. Bad Things Redux by Metermaids (featuring Sage Francis and B. Dolan)

I have talked about this song a lot before, I believe.  So I will keep this relatively short.  When we were finishing up Rooftop Shake we were sending beats to Sage to get his opinion before we did any rapping.  Lo and behold, two of those beats came back with Sage Fucking Francis rapping on them.  One was Kill The Crow (which eventually featured Buck65 as well), and the other was Bad Things.  I remember listening to Sage’s verse for the first time with my lady by my side.  I felt like my skin was on fire.

Later in the year, we had the fortune of doing a mini Colorado tour with the big guy and B. Dolan.  In the green room of the Mishawaka Theater outside of Fort Collins, Dolan was playing us some stuff from his laptop.  I remember he was kicking around the idea of doing this song.  At some point he casually mentioned that he had the Bad Things instrumental, and was thinking of writing some shit to it.  Sentence and I were like… aiiiiiiiight.

Months later he sent his shit through.  And… please.  He is SO FUCKING GOOD.  Seriously.  You want poignant?  Here.  You want some funny shit?  Here.  You want a dude to just rap his ass off?  See above.  This is #2 on my list because after hearing Sage’s verse (which was the first part of the song recorded) we made the conscious decision to not compete.  We just wanted to have fun.  After Dolan came with his shit our decision was even more validated.  If Bad Things Redux is the Chicago Bulls, Sage and Dolan are on some Jordan and Pippen shit.  Sentence and I are on some BJ Armstrong and John Paxson shit.  That’s not to say that players like Armstrong and Paxson are not essential to winning championships, but you know what I mean.

Every time all four of us perform this song I get off stage and think it was the greatest non-child-related moment of my life.  I tend towards hyperbole, but still.

1. Death of the Boombox by Prolyphic (featuring Sage Francis and Metermaids)

Numba One.  Top of the Heap.  In my hear of hearts, I believe this to be true.

Buddy Peace on the beat.  Sage Francis starts the song off in a ridiculous manner, and then goes on to kill it.  Prolyphic kills it.  And, IMHO, Sentence and I kill it too.  I love the beat, love all the writing, love the hook, love the idea of the song.  I have spent days where I listened to it like 50 times.  I remember when Sentence and I recorded our parts I figured out Bryan Adam’s “Everything I Do I Do it For You” on the piano while Sentene was recording.  Random memory, but true.

I don’t know what else to say about it.  Pro and Buddy’s record Working Man is one of the most slept on records in recent memory to me.  Every song is good.  It’s an honor to be a part of it.  To be on a song like this, produced by Buddy, that also features Sage?  Puhlease.

Life is good.

Nov 05

RIP Ikey Owens

1 ikey

The world lost an incredible talent and a genuinely good person today. Point blank. He was also the most badass keyboardist I’ve ever seen perform live. To see Ikey Owens do his thing as part of my own set for 30+ shows on the Li(f)e Tour was a true privilege. Powerful, inspiring, electric…awesome. It was on that tour when I lost my dad actually, and the whole band was not only understanding of my situation but very comforting. As a shit-twist of coincidence would have it, we are very close to the 4 year anniversary of Eyedea’s sudden passing.

It’s stuff like this I dread when I hit the road for extended periods of time. For myself, for others, for everyone…the goal of the road is for it to be tragedy free. It’s a high hope to be sure, but it’s the things you never expect that sock you in the gut while you’re so helpless and far away. I just returned home from a sold out show in Newcastle feeling on top of the world when I opened an email to this awful news. He was found dead in a hotel today while he was touring with Jack White’s band in Mexico. The details of his passing aren’t fully known, but it’s not prudent to speculate or to get hung up on that stuff right now.

One thing I’m grateful for is that we had a chance to hang out last month when he was traveling through RI with Jack White’s band. Although we hadn’t seen each other in 4 years, he hit me up to get dinner so we could catch up on old times and discuss our current projects. We had some laughs, we discussed music, and, what was most important, he was really loving life. It’s good for me to be around people with those positive vibes and the fact that he just wanted to hang out with no official business being part of bargain meant a lot to me. That’s a gift I was given and I’m lucky to have it now that I know we’ll never be able to speak again.

All of the people he’s touched, mentored, or worked with through the years are experiencing shock and disbelief at the moment, just as I am, and there’s not much we can do except grieve and share our memories of him. My thoughts are with his friends, family and bandmates. I wanted to share this photo in hopes that it provides at least a smirk. Especially my friends in the Free Moral Agents. They know that Ikey had a rule about performers not wearing shorts on stage. That rule clashed with my rule about wearing my famous yellow swim trunks when the moment called for it (usually when my only pair of pants were being laundered.) He didn’t say anything about it. I know what he was thinking though.

Love you, homie.

Oct 14

Sage Francis – Australia Tour – Dec 2014

My Australia Tour for 2014 has just been announced!
All details are posted below. There’s also a FB page dedicated to it. So fancy.
New Zealand dates will be announced soon.
COPPER GONE album is AVAILABLE NOW! That’s why I’ve been touring my tail off, don’tcha know? For info on all of my other upcoming shows click HERE.

Dec 3 @ Uni Bar – Adelaide
Dec 4 @ The Corner Hotel – Melbourne
Dec 5 @ The Roller Den – Sydney
Dec 7 @ The Brightside – Brisbane

Many thanks to Pat Jensen for the poster artwork. Below are two other size options for you social networks.

1 oz header official

FB header

1 oz square official


MAKE EM PURR was the last video we released:

GRACE was the first video off of Copper Gone:

First single – “VONNEGUT BUSY”

Follow on: Twitter + Facebook.

Oct 02

“Make Em Purr” video, lyrics, backstory

Video Director: Wasaru. 
Art Director: Jebedaï Couture
Special thanks to Jim Foltice for help with the treatment.

“Make Em Purr” has been one of the most discussed songs from the Copper Gone album, and since the most popular question I get asked on tour is, “How’s your cat, man?” — I figured it would be a good time to give you the song’s backstory. “Make Em Purr” didn’t even exist until a day before my final recording session. In fact, I considered the whole album to be finished save for one legal issue I had with “Thank You.” Out of fear that I wouldn’t be able to use the original music, I harassed a bunch of producers to see if they could come up with something totally new. Buck 65 is the main superhero who leapt into action to save the Francis in distress, bless his kind Canadian heart. He sent me several great beats, but none of them worked quite right for “Thank You”. The last beat he sent me was too somber sounding for for it — but the sad piano, pulsating low notes, sparse percussion and stripped-down feel of the music…it all hit me in a very particular way. It inspired me to write. I told Buck that I’d have a new song for him to hear the next day.

Up until that point I thought that I had said everything that needed to be said on the album. I was very wrong about that, and I’m grateful I figured this out before it was too late. Although many parts of Copper Gone touch upon the grief, depression, solitude, and disappointment that I’ve experienced in the past few years, along with the efforts being made to push forward, I had yet to speak about what I was dealing with in a plain manner. I’ve become very guarded as a person and as an artist over the past 15 years (and, in my own defense, with good reason.) Although that shit can protect you from the wolves, it can also hinder your relationships as well as your art and well being. The goal was not to write about cats, illness, being an introvert or anything in particular. I simply played the beat on a continuous loop, put my pen to the paper and transcribed an inner-debate I was having. I started the song off with a stark naked truth and let the rest of it fold out from there:

“I was a lot more comfortable being vulnerable and open,
When I was younger and it wasn’t clear if I was or wasn’t joking.
But so much has broken…I’m just like fuck it, the fix is in.
If I can’t hide in plain site anymore, I’ll just stay hidden.”

At that point in the writing process the entire spirit of the song basically took shape, and I kept writing until I landed on the final four lines of the song: “My 20’s were a roar. My 30’s were a blur. My 40’s, I’m not so sure… but I’m a make em purr.” That was that. Though there wasn’t any time to make revisions, there wasn’t really any need. It encapsulated everything I was feeling and thinking at that very moment, which was at the tail end of shitty period in my life. I stepped into my studio, recorded the vocals, sent it over to Buck and let him put the finishing touches on the arrangement. I can hardly believe that Copper Gone was almost released without this song on it. I believe it elucidates the meaning of so many other lyrics on the album, and without this song I wouldn’t feel as proud as I am of the entire project. So, again, many thanks to Buck for helping make this happen and a major salute to my lucky stars.

Lastly, contrary to what some reviewers have ascertained, this song is not *about* cats. However, if the main thing you get out of it is that I almost gave up all hope due to a dying pet, and you can relate to that situation on some level, that’s good enough for me.

The cat is doing great, btw.

1 sagefrancis_makeempurr_mens_tshirt_closeup

shirt image by Pat Jensen

“Make Em Purr” shirts are now available (men’s and women’s) at:


I was a lot more comfortable being vulnerable and open when I was younger and it wasn’t clear if I was or wasn’t joking. But so much has broken I’m just like, “Fuck it…the fix is in.” If I can’t hide in plain sight anymore, I’ll just stay hidden. It’s been a minute since I left this domicile. No need to change my outfit. I rock it like it’s going out of style. It’s out of style? Ain’t no one here to tell me otherwise. It gets more difficult to stay inside during the summertime. But most of the time it’s just like any other time… Avoid personal interaction and human touch. Shut the blinds. It’s been a while since I left this bachelor pad. I’ll need to go to the market soon because the food is going bad. The food is bad. I’ve found it’s difficult to just cook for one. With healthy recipes. Well, depending on what book they’re from. If you want to eat healthy you’ve got to dirty some dishes. But this frozen dinner is quickly ready to serve… and it’s so delicious. It’s not delicious. It’s disgusting. But it satiates the hunger with a quickness, and hey… at least it’s something. At least it’s something. At most it’s nothing. Fuck’s wrong with me? I don’t know. I’m just adjusting. It’s been a month since I left this cabin. The doctor was worried about a fever and other difficulties I’ve been having. She called me on Christmas. That was my gift. She was worried I might die. I said, “I might die? Well…no shit.” It’s been forever since I’ve said something I can’t wiggle free from. If there’s anything I cherish in this self-inflicted prison…it’s freedom. It comes at a cost so I’m private to a fault, ’til I default on the loan for a home. It’s actually more like a vault. No one knows the combo but little old me. The head honcho. The holder of the key. Alone but never lonely. It’s been a millennia since I left this dominion or been in the company of any women… At least I’ve got my kittens. Spent more cash on my cat than I did myself. When he stopped eating I took him to the vet so they could check his health. They put a feeding tube into his neck. I said, “Please let this work because if it doesn’t…I’ve got nothing left.” I didn’t say that. But they saw that. Cat had my tongue. I didn’t speak at all. They just told me to call back. What, it wasn’t weird that I did nothing but stand right there? With a “FIX this…money’s no object” type stare? It’s been a year since I’ve stepped into anyone else’s private quarters. I’ve been busy self-diagnosing disorders. First world problems. Yeah… USA #1. Top of the world. I’m in a tux and cumber-bun. Welcome, everyone…to the party of the century. It’s sure to be one for the books, no doubt. Medical ones especially. My 20’s were a roar. My 30’s were a blur. My 40’s…I’m not so sure. But I’m a make ’em purr.

Aug 25

The Sage Francis Interview Invasion, 2014

I’ve done a slew of interviews in 2014, all of which surfaced around the same time. Here’s the comprehensive breakdown…

This is an interview I did with BeeShine on the very first day of the Copper Gone Tour. It’s probably my favorite video interview that I’ve done:

Here’s a video interview I did in Pittsburgh on the day of Copper Gone‘s release:

Here are a couple podcasts I participated in recently. It’s a lot of talking. If you’re bored or working around the house, feel free to play them while you shuffle about:

Shots Fired:

Chrome Bills (with Seez Mics):

More recently I conducted a Q&A on my Facebook page just to see how something like that might go. Over the course of 24 hours I answered as many questions as I could. If you have the patience of a monk, you can read all of the interactions HERE.

I love talking. Love it so much. Here’s a photo to express my excitement:

Sage Francis photo by Prentice Danner

If you’re still interested in more interviews for whatever reason, I’ve archived them here.

A couple of my favorites are:
Bonafide Magazine
Colorado Buzz Music

Jul 31

“To Hell and Back” – Phoenix Cover Story

It’s been a long time since I got any significant coverage from local media. Big thanks to Chris Conti for getting me the cover story:

1 phoenix

Here’s a bit of an aside that I wrote on my Facebook page, June 26th:

It feels a bit heavy handed to call what I’ve gone through “to hell and back,” especially when my situation was largely self-inflicted. In my head. And it’s not something people could help me with. I choose how I live. There many people going through much worse in their daily lives without any say in the matter. That’s not to diminish the serious nature of things like depression, but I have gone through worse and I expect to go through worse. That’s life. The driving force behind Copper Gone was not to shame people for not helping me when I apparently needed assistance of some sort. For instance, I’d hate for my loved ones to read this article and be made to feel like they should have helped me in some way. That just wasn’t an option. I worked through it the way I know to work through it, I’m in a much better place, and life continues to be as confusing as it is interesting. I can’t say I’m officially out of the dark part of the woods yet, but I am definitely glad to be climbing trees again.

Putting focus back into my music and myself is just what the Doctor ordered. I’m good. And I’m in great company.

Thank you

Jul 17

Sage Francis live performance + interview on “Breaking the Set”

A few months ago I was contacted by Abby Martin to appear on her news show, “Breaking the Set” on RT. As this show is filmed in DC, we decided it would be best to swing through there on the day of my show in DC show which happened to be at the tail-end of my Copper Gone Tour. Unfortunately that also meant that my voice would be incredibly hoarse, but that’s no excuse to skip out on the G that is Miss Martin.

“Vonnegut Busy” + interview

“Dead Man’s Float” (this didn’t make it to air)

Also, as you may notice, I’m being backed up by B. Dolan and Lord Grunge. I asked Lord Grunge to act like he’s doing a lot of turntable trickery even though he’s just pressing play on a CDJ. He came through like a champ on that request.

COPPER GONE is available now in all formats at

Jul 15

Scroobius Pip’s Favo(u)rite Lines from Sage Francis’ “Copper Gone”

Scroobius Pip is a renowned emcee, poet, radio host, beardtender, and member of SFR’s UK squadron. He was also kind enough to release Sage Francis‘ new LP, “Copper Gone”, in his UK home turf on his own Speech Development label.

A long-time Sage supporter well before he joined the roster of Strange Famous, Pip took time to jot down his favo(u)rite lines from each song on “Copper Gone”, shared below.

What are your favorite lines from “Copper Gone”? Tweet us at or use the hashtag #CopperGone and share yours!

Purchase “Copper Gone” from SFR (US + Worldwide shipping) here,
and from Speech Development (UK/EU) here.


Track: Pressure Cooker
Favourite line: “They say anger is a gift…I’m very gifted. And if ignorance is bliss then I’m a sadomasochist.”

Track: Grace
Favourite line: “We can battle with tattoos, to cover up the bruises. The first to show any sign of discomfort loses. For the first time in a long time you’re not who my muse is.”

Track: ID Thieves
Favourite line: “If rap was a game you’d be MVP. Most Valuable Puppet in this industry.. Independent? Fuck you…”

Track: Cheat Code
Favourite line: “You’ve been padding your résumé, while I’ve been rhyming bout li(f)e like I’m rapping my death away”

Track: Dead Man’s Float
Favourite line: “It’s been said faith can move a mountain…but faith couldn’t even move low income families away from biblical floods when they were all drowning…”

Track: Over Under
Favourite line: “cos I’ve heard it all before from a sharper tongue with a lot more scorn, performing self flagellation with improper form until the coppers gone…”

Track: Make Em Purr
Favourite line: This whole track just destroys me. Favourite on the album. Any line out of context just doesn’t do the whole piece justice.
(Although “first world problems? Yeah… USA number 1…” does pretty good)

Track: Vonnegut Busy
Favourite line: “sometimes I shoot myself in the foot, put my foot in my mouth, clean it while it’s there, and then I suck the bullet out”
“And as the say; may the bridges that we burn light the way”

Track: Thank You
Favourite line: “You gave me language as a gift, I turned it against you…”

Track: The Set Up
Favourite line: “Now I never see the light of day thanks to the tinted limo…”

Track: The Place She Feared Most
Favourite line: “I could mock a killing bird without dropping a single word, flip the middle finger till they start thinning the herd…”

Track: Once Upon a Blood Moon
Favourite line: “now he can’t tell if he’s dead or not. He said ‘I bet I am, and I can prove it…’ She said ‘…you’d better not…'”

Track: Say Uncle
Favourite line: “…instead perhaps the homies homing instincts been severed…”

Favourite line: “Paint me like one of your French girls…”

Purchase “Copper Gone” from SFR (US + Worldwide shipping) here,  and from Speech Development (UK/EU) here.

Jun 06

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