Strange Famous Records

B. Dolan “EARTHMOVERS” video and photos

B. Dolan and I flew out to Kansas City from February 19-22 to film the video for his “Earthmovers” song (www.FallenHouse.com for more info on that album!)

I was prepared for high quality work from the director, Kyle Harbaugh, but the kind of things he worked out for “Earthmovers” is beyond anything we could have Read the rest of this entry »

4 Comments »
Feb 24

“Fallen House, Sunken City” is going to slay you.

B. Dolan’s new album “Fallen House, Sunken City” is produced entirely by ALIAS. It features P.O.S., Cadence Weapon, Buddy Peace, “What Cheer?” Brigade and it drops on March 2, 2010. Check out the video and download the first single for free at www.FallenHouse.com

go to www.FallenHouse.com for all info

go to www.FallenHouse.com for all info

Two years of pain-staking labor…on March 2nd the child is born. There’s so much I’d like to say about this album but it’s probably best that we let the music speak for itself. If you’re half excited as we are about this project then it’s going to be a hell of a year for B. Dolan, Alias, myself and everyone else at Strange Famous Records. Please check out the details and updates as they funnel in at www.FallenHouse.com

If you are bored by linernotes then don’t read any further. If you love linernotes, here are mine for now: I’d like to thank Danny Brown for putting the FallenHouse webpage together in a matter of days. I’d like to thank Uncle Pete for the album artwork. I’d like to thank Irena Mihalinec for the web designs and all the meticulous work she does to make us look as pretty as we do. I’d like to thank Storm and Amanda for helping things run more smoothly in the SFR barracks. I’d like to thank Dan & Jacob at Pretty Picture Movement for their work on the video trailer. I’d like to thank Prolyphic and Kyle Harbaugh for the video work people haven’t seen yet. I’d like to thank P.O.S., Cadence Weapon, Buddy Peace, and “What Cheer?” Brigade for their contributions to the album.  I’d like to thank Buck 65, Graematter, Evil 9, and Reanimator for their help with the remixes (there’s no telling when these will be released.) And, most of all, I’d like to thank Dolan and Alias for seeing this project through even while tensions ran high and the world seemed to be crumbling around us.

I’m sure I’m missing someone but this list will do for now. I’m very fucking excited to have this album finally finished and released on SFR in 2010. Oh yeah…I’d like to thank the fans who are helping generate excitement and promotion for this album. There’s more to come as the release date approaches.

:-*

3 Comments »
Jan 25

Video footage of the very 1st Xaul Zan battle (1999)

“You love to hear the story, again and again, of how it all got started way back when…”

Ten years ago I was living in Brooklyn, NY on a velcro sneaker budget. A friend named Mig was kind enough to let me sleep on his floor at night as my days were spent  looking for ways to either make money or get my name out there. One way I tried making those things happen was by entering emcee battles. The most popular semi-regular battle was an event called Braggin’ Rites which I THOUGHT took place at a club called The Wetlands, but the banner behind the stage clearly says S.O.B’s. If I remember correctly, and as you’ll see in the video below, the night was usually hosted by Yeshua da Poed and their format entailed 4 emcees battling each other at once during the earlier rounds. You’ll also see in the video that my Xaul Zan alter-ego wasn’t fully developed just yet, but the concept was definitely being birthed on this night.

[youtube width="387" height="332"]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=DDS_qq9v_aM[/youtube]

This battle footage isn’t anything I’d consider as part of a highlight reel, and it’s difficult to make out much of what is actually being said, but I’m happy to share this video time capsule with people. It’s been a crazy decade. I’m lookin’ forward to the next.

Thanks for sticking it out with the kid.
-Sage Francis

www.StrangeFamous.com

17 Comments »
Dec 02

Urb Magazine on hiatus?

It seems Urb Magazine is taking a hiatus from printing more issues, opting to go the digital route until 2010 to see if it is financially feasible to return to ink.

Although it’s not a hip-hop magazine per se, Urb was one of the last publications to give coverage to independent hip-hop. That being said, it’s a bit sad for all of us here at SFR and we wish them well.

Here are the details Urb sent out in a mass email earlier today:

“This autumn, for the first time in our 20 year history, URB Magazine will release our first all digital issue. URB #159 will hit the ‘streets’ later this month and feature 25 must-know artists breaking onto the scene. In the spirit of our lauded Next 100, our 25: NOW! issue will be a reference guide to what’s next.

As for our print edition, we’re taking a hiatus until 2010 so we can see what the future of ink on paper should really look like. In the meantime, we’re thrilled about a major URB.COM relaunch (this month!) and bringing a ton of digital initiatives to you and our readers.”

One of the only magazines brave enough to put my ugly mug on a cover. Respeck!

108 Comments »
Oct 01

RIP Roc Raida (guest blog by DJ Jester)

This week we lost one of the greatest DJ’s this world has ever known. Grand Master Roc Raida (real name: Anthony Williams) of the X-Ecutioners passed away on Saturday due to complications from a mixed-martial-arts accident. His sudden passing shocked the world (the hip-hop community in particular) as messages of sorrow and condolence came flooding in.

My personal experience with Roc Raida is very limited. I used to hunt down Roc Raida mixtapes as well as VHS tapes of his DJ performances. I played his music often on my radio show and I was lucky enough to see him perform with the X-Ecutioners (at that time they were called the X-Men) at a small club in Providence, RI in the late 90′s. His performances were enthralling and inspiring. I never became much of a DJ, but Roc Raida did the kind of things that would make you think, “Yeah…if I dedicated all of my time to a craft I want to be able to freak it like that.” And of course, very few will ever be able to do it the way Roc Raida did.

Buck 65 has already posted a personal story about Roc Raida on his blog section here at www.StrangeFamous.com but an honorary member of the SFR crew named DJ Jester wanted to share his experience as well so here’s his story:

“I found out about Roc Raida’s death the same way I’ve been hearing most bad news lately…through Twitter. I’m following DJ Spinderella, the DJ for Salt-N-Pepa, and that’s where I got the news. I was up early on Saturday, September 19th, 2009, on a road trip and this was the surprise I got during breakfast. I got into Marfa, Texas, a tiny west Texas art town a day early before for a gig Saturday. It made me think..Dang, here I am in the middle of nowhere about to DJ and, honestly, I probably wouldn’t even be doing this if it weren’t for Raida. And it’s not like my style is anything like his. I do think he was an influence, though. I can’t beat juggle to save my life but I do know I wanted to start a body trick crew because of him.

There weren’t as many celebrity tweets about Roc Raida’s passing as there were for DJ AM, but I can understand why. It was a different scene. Like other DJs around my age (early thirtysomething), I distinctly remember me in the late 90′s being a fan of this scratch DJ thing more than I paid attention to school or girls. Scratch DJ videos probably got me more in debt back then than anything else. It was a culture I felt part of. Like those friends you have who watch a lot of wrestling. I immersed myself in it, mostly by way of being the arts editor for my college newspaper. Every show scratch DJ related I’d try to score tickets to. I was invited to both Q-Bert’s “Wave Twisters” CD release in San Francisco AND his Skratchcon 2000 event, not as a DJ but as a journalist. On one of those trips, the first video I probably bought was a self-released Skratch Piklz video. Coming from San Antonio, where that stuff didn’t really hit yet I couldn’t believe there was such amazing talent coming from these other towns. Ten years ago DJ’s had their own voices and personalities. Like, when you saw them or heard them you knew it was THEIR voice. DJ Swamp, Kid Koala, Mr. Dibbs, the X-Men, Piklz, and Beat Junkies. Those were pretty much my heroes. Skratch DJing was still considered experimental getting love from the Wire and magazines like that. Anyway, those Piklz videos led to me buying the Invisibl Skratch Piklz vs. the X-Men video. That’s probably the first time I saw Raida perform in a group routine. That made me hungry for more so I bought the 1995 World DMC Finals video. I would constantly rewind the part where he is spinning with his back to the turntables and would try (mostly jokingly) to imitate that during practice. When he defended his title in the 1996 World DMCs, it was like he grew more musical in a year.

Anyway, Roc Raida RIP. I felt like I knew you. Thank you for being you and for your contributions to hip-hop culture.
-DJ Jester the Filipino Fist”

4 Comments »
Sep 21

Ever been to Switzerland?

In 2005 I toured Europe with a group called Grand Buffet. Although they are my favourite group in the world to tour with, this was the most trying and difficult tour of my career. We were robbed a couple times, there was a hospital trip, had run-ins with the law, you name it. By the time we reached Switzerland for our final show, our morale was totally shot. Upon entering Swiss territory, the country looked like a ghost town. A very clean, sterile and affluent ghost town.

As we drove through the city of Zurich we noticed a ferris wheel and some other rides off in the distance. It was a carnival or town fair of some sort. The place was dead empty, but we had some time to kill before the show so we decided to storm the castle. “Storming the castle” is a game we came up with to keep ourselves entertained during these long trips through no-man’s-land Europe. What that game entailed was simply running around like a bunch of idiots while yelling at the top of our lungs to cause confusion or alarm for the people on the premises.

We pulled up to the carnival, hopped out of the van, “stormed the castle,” and returned back to our van completely out of breath. We looked at each one another like…”what the fuck did we just see?” It was clearly the best little carnival in the world. So we went back in disguised as civilized Americans. Thankfully they allowed us back in.

The rides were wonderfully dangerous. They were the kind of rides that would never be allowed at an American carnival. They were lawsuit- worthy. Even the games came with a risk of injury. Games like… shoot the can with an actual rifle. You know…I don’t know. It was a while ago and I can’t remember the specifics, but I remember every booth being manned by a beautiful woman. This is different than the toothless, ex-convict carnies we are used to in the States.

When we finished with the Shoot-Your-Eye-Out and Punch-The-Clown-in-the-Face games, we had to leave and find our way to our show. Upon entering the club, we saw that there was a huge print-out of my face that reached from the stage to the ceiling. It was glorious and totally obnoxious. The promoter told me that his idea was to have me run through it when it was time for me to start my set. Just… amazing. I looked at him like, “Yeah man… totally.”

What happened instead is that I stripped down to my underwear during Grand Buffet’s set and I jumped through my print-out face during Grand Buffet’s performance. Music wasn’t even playing when I decided to do it. In fact, Lord Grunge of GB was fighting with a crowd member when I decided to make my grand entrance. Since I was in disguise (with a baseball cap and wig,) no one recognized me. As far as the audience was concerned I was just some random, pseudo-naked, long-haired, half-naked guy contributing to an oddball performance from a beligerant rap group. It wasn’t wild though. The crowd went dead silent. I stumbled to the CD player, hit the play button and yelled, “LET’S GO!”

I helped Grand Buffet end their set by doing high leg kicks for 2 two minutes straight. When the song finished, Lord Grunge grabbed the CD player and slammed it into the ground. I have no idea how my own set went. I have no recollection of it at all. All I remember is walking on my hands when the show was finished, racing a woman down the dance floor. I won. This was the last show of my last European Tour, and Switzerland is fucking weird.

6 Comments »
Sep 01

PFA returns home. Jared Paul drops J.R.R. science

PFA have just returned home from their first national tour in support of the Prayers for Atheists EP release.  24 shows in the bag, the band has returned back home to Rhode Island more excited and inspired than when they left. For those who don’t know anything about touring, that is miraculous. I’d like to congratulate Jared Paul, Alan Hague, Cousin Tom, the new drummer Marco, and Dan Sawyer (their engineer, photographer, van man and guardian angel) on their successful excursion.

Livin’ the li(f)e! Looks fun, don’t it? You may see the freedom of the road and non-stop rock and roll. All I can see is work, sweat, sleepless nights and relentless desert heat. But don’t mind me, I am a jaded old man who is in no rush to get behind the wheel of a 15 passenger van for the rest of his life. However, this is the life that I’ve carved out for myself, and Jared Paul is the one of the few people who has stayed by my side and experienced it all with me. Thus begins the true point of this blog…

There are three things that Jared has pushed on me through the years:

1) Bob Dylan (thank you for that.)

2) Coffee (no thank you for that you sumbich.)

3)  The Lord of the Rings trilogy (the books…NOT the movies. I repeat…not the movies.)

Let’s focus on #3. Jared Paul’s family passes down the J.R.R. Tolkien books from generation to generation like scripture. It’s serious business. Soon before the first Lord of the Rings movie hit theaters, Jared gave me all the books in hopes that I would read them before seeing the flicks. He masked the covers with black tape so that my imagination wouldn’t be influenced by the drawings.  He apparently does this with all his books. What’s weird is that he decorates the cover of his writing notebook with pictures of Katie Holmes from the Dawson’s Creek era.

I started reading the first book of the 3-book series while I was touring Europe. I figured that would enhance my Shire experience.  Unfortunately, I didn’t finish reading it before “The Fellowship of the Ring” hit the big screen. Not only am I a slow reader, but Tolkien has a habit of over-explaining my least favorite subject…geography.
When I returned home, Jared reluctantly joined our group of friends and attended the movie with us. I had to convince him to stay in his seat and not leave the theater when this guy popped up as one of the characters.

This was the look Jared was giving me:

Jared Paul is not pleased

coincidence?

Jared ultimately left the theater before the movie ended. He isn’t the only person who was offended by the movie’s bastardization of the original story, but he IS the only one I know whose balls I can bust when it comes to Lord of the Rings. Since I’m the kind of petty person who likes to find weak spots in other people and continually hit them for my own amusement, I thought I struck gold when I found this video lampooning the Lord of the Rings movies. I sent Jared an email saying, “You need to see this!” Here it is:

Jared’s email response made me laugh and I figured I would share it with the world. It reminded me of a side of Jared that I’ve always loved and more people need to know about. I apologize to Jared if he didn’t want this response to be made public, but I will keep it up until I get a cease and desist. Big ups to the hardcore Tolkien fans who continue to carry to torch. I like to imagine this email being written in a fury:

“It was very enjoyable. and i laughed. but it’s total fuckery; the only reason the eagle (or frodo and sam) were able to make it to mount doom at all was because the collected armies of Middle Earth fronted a full assault on the Towers of the Teeth after Aragorn declared himself to Sauron in the Palantir- leading Sauron to believe that Aragorn had the ring and was attempting to establish his Kingship by successfully attacking Mordor.  Sauron knew that there was no way that even Aragorn could have learned how to use the One in such a short time (nor would he even have the power to wield it) but in regards to the vanity and arrogance of Man it made sense, so unlooked for, he took the bait and emptied Mordor’s forces- attacking the united armies from the west gate as well as the north… in addition to sending all remaining forces to redouble the assault at Lorian, Escargoth/the Lonely Mountain, and Isengard (and else where).  The whole place was emptied and Sauron’s full attention was outside Mordor- but only up to that very moment.  And there was no way to know how things would play out till exactly that time.  Especially considering that Minas Morgus was still fully operational up to that point and the Nazgul were also in constant patrol over the mountains.  Had the eagle been sent in earlier, it would’ve unquestionably been killed and the ring would’ve gone directly into Sauron’s control and we’d all be dead.  Gandalf was a G.  He was literally the only person in all of Middle Earth who could’ve pulled everything off; which is arguably the exact reason the Istari were sent from across the water over a thousand years before.  (Not too MENTION that it was only under Gandalf’s orchestration that the One was found again and kept safe in the first place, or that without him Smaug (the Dragon from the Hobbit) would still have been alive and on Mordor’s side for the Great War).
The dudes from the clip look like Who Farted to anyone who loves the story (regardless of whether or not we look like D&D nerds to them), but that’s what happens when hack ass comedians think they know something about one of the greatest stories ever told just by watching some fucking shitbag Peter Jackson sacrilege.  If I could go back in time, I’d slit Christopher Tolkienne’s throat before he could have ever signed over the rights.  Then I’d probably cut Jackson too, just for safe keeping.  Kill A Pimp For Justice.”
Ok. That’s all. I’m still giggling and I’m not sure these giggles will be shared.
Metaphors be with you,
Sage

www.twitter.com/SageFrancisSFR

4 Comments »
Aug 30

Spiders and moths and death, oh my!

Greetings Strange Fam,

I haven’t bloggity-blogged it up in a while because I’ve been up to my bloodshot eyeballs in work.  However, so much is happening in my life and in the world that I need to address it  in one big swoop.

1) RIP to Michael Jackson.

MJ was the biggest star any of us will probably ever know. The reason we’ll hear about him until the day we die is because his impact spanned so many generations. Thriller is the first tape my mom ever bought me. I played that tape front to back more times than I care to admit. I was at my house rehearsing with B. Dolan when the news broke. We were both in shock as we sat in front of the television in a total state of “What…the…fuck.”  I could go on and on about MJ, but I’d rather not get lost in a tangent. There is a song about him that’s been sitting in my notebook for years. Since I never could figure out how to finish the song, I’ll just share the one line that keeps repeating in my head (in reference to his plastic surgery):

“It had less to do with race, and more to do with removing traces of his father from his face.”

I guess that sums up the whole purpose of the song. No need to record it now.

The day after MJ’s death, B. Dolan and I were greeted with Tech N9ne’s tour bus at Chicago’s “Rock the Bells” concert.

promo gone wrong

promo gone wrong

It should be known that this album title and image was created 6 months before MJ’s death. I don’t want people thinking it was a spur of the moment decision to capitalize on a tragedy. Tech N9ne is the homie.

2) RIP to Walter Cronkite.  He raised a bar that journalists should aspire to match rather than just play limbo with. Lets see one of these robotic talking heads we now see on TV every day earn the title of “The Most Trusted Man in America.”

3) RIP to Anne R. D’Antuono.

Not many people know of her as her story isn’t on every news channel (or any news channel for that matter.) She was my 5th grade teacher and she died at the age of 83. Her obituary mentioned the basics of her life;  birth date, death date, relatives, and nothing else. That’s not a proper send off.

Mrs. D’Antuono seemed to come straight out of a black and white movie. She was tall and lanky, often sporting a trench coat and bucket hat. If you were chewing gum in her class she would stick it on your nose. If you weren’t paying attention she would put her nails to the chalk board. To put it plainly, she was a no-nonsense mofo. Mrs. D’Antuono was a stickler for the English language, cramming sentence diagrams down our throats almost every day. In fact, I found myself in accelerated English classes for the rest of my scholastic career because of it. Most of the kids in class, including myself, were scared of her.  There were also sweet and endearing moments throughout the year, all of which stick out in my mind much more than the ruler being slapped against the desk.

Our 5th grade class was the last she would ever teach. When she announced her retirement I wondered if it was because we pushed her over the edge somehow. It’s unlikely, but I do think that we were ushering in a new generation of kids who lacked the discipline and attention span that her particular teaching style required. She wasn’t there to baby sit. She was there to teach. Her retirement must have weighed heavy on my conscience, because on the last day of school I wrote her a poem and slipped it onto her desk without anyone noticing. Just a little show of appreciation for her hard work. She photocopied it, laminated it, and sent it to my mother…so…ya know…I’m pretty awesome. And I’m probably going to heaven.

The only reason I learned of her passing this past weekend is because my Grandmother was her bridge partner. I attended the wake and had the opportunity to tell her family about the lasting impression their mother had on me. I’d post a photo, but none exist online. This is just a heart-felt shout to an unsung hero. You were a bad ass, Mrs. D! May your red pen strike me down whenever I end a sentence with a preposition.

4) SFR’s CD manufacturer is based in Texas. Boxes are delivered to my driveway in Rhode Island. The last large shipment of boxes was Sleep’s “Hesitation Wounds” album. As I was carrying one of the boxes to my van a spider fell out of it. It was large, hairy, and it tumbled down my body onto the ground. I tossed the box I was holding and hyperventilated for a minute while I stared at this nightmare of a bug.

This picture is the best I could take with my phone, but it doesn’t do the traumatic experience any justice.  Listen…I live in RI. I’ve never seen a fucking bug like this ever. It wasn’t as big as the tarantulas that I see in horror movies, but it was hairy and huge. As you can see, it was on its way to eat my cat when I mustered up the courage to take this photo.  I then scooped up my cat and ran into the house. I apologize for introducing this creature into RI’s ecosystem. Good luck with that.

5) In other Stephen King-esque news, I was sitting in my living room tonight when I heard something knocking against my door. I opened up the door and was greeted by a moth that was the size of a baby bird. What the fuck is going on here? It’s the biggest god damn moth I’ve ever seen in my life.

big ass moth

big ass moth

Again, my camera phone is not doing this thing justice.  The picture below includes my finger in order to give perspective.

What is that, a little baby finger next to a regular sized moth? Nope, it’s actually my fat sausage finger next to a monster sized moth.

I picked it up by its wings and tossed it away from my door but it keeps coming back. If I need to save this Jurassic beast in a jar for scientific study I hope someone tells me soon.

6) I’m not a particularly spiritual person, but sometimes I get caught up in superstition. It’s shameful, really. But as I encounter these creatures that belong in the Guinness Book of World Records, I start to wonder if they’re omens.  I haven’t even mentioned the big toads hopping around my lawn, but they’re there.  So I start obsessing over these encounters with strange nature beasts and then I connect them to things that are happening in my life.

The other week I woke up and my eye inexplicably looked like this.

Did someone fart on my pillow? Did that big spider lay eggs in my eyelid? No…it’s a stye. It went away after two days with no treatment. As soon as it went away I had gland pains in my neck. It  hurt to speak and it hurt to turn my head. Once that went away I had so much pain in my right arm, wrist and fingers that I couldn’t sleep. So, OK, my body is going crazy. I’m recording my new album and there’s a spiritual war going on in my arteries. That’s what the doctor told me anyway…after taking my blood and shipping it off to the government for testing.

I’ve been sworn to secrecy, so if you’re looking for an explanation then you’ll need to wait for my autopsy.

“That’s the way it is.”

-Francis

27 Comments »
Jul 17

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