Sage Francis 2016 (Den, Fin, Swe, Nor, Iceland, Ireland, RI, FL, Tahoe, NM, CO)
My shows get booked sporadically, and, seemingly at total random. To make sure you don’t miss an event near you, sign up for the newsletter on our homepage! Follow on Twitter, Instagram, and Facebook.
Sep 28th – Copenhagen, Denmark @ Beta
Sep 29th – Helsinki, Finland @ Kuudes Linja
Sep 30th – Oulu, Finland @ Areena, Terminalli for Hoodfest
Oct 1 – Uppsala, Sweden @ Ordsprak (music performance)
Oct 4 – Trondheim, Norway @ Blaest
Oct 5 – Oslo, Norway @ Revolver
Oct 20 – Reykjavik, Iceland @ Húrra
Oct 22 – Dublin, Ireland @ The Workmans Club (Lingo Festival)
Nov 5th – Westerly, RI @ The Knickerbocker
Nov 10th – Providence, RI @ The Met (this is a spoken word show with B. Dolan)
Dec 1 – Tampa Bay, FL @ Dunedin Brewery (free show)
Dec 2 – Orlando, FL @ The Social
Dec 3 – Jacksonville, FL @ 1904 Music Hall
Dec 27 – South Lake Tahoe, CA @ Whiskey Dick’s
Dec 29 – Santa Fe, NM @ Meow Wolf
Dec 30 – Denver, CO @ Oriental Theater
“ID Thieves” is the latest video off of “Copper Gone”:
“MAKE EM PURR”:
“BEST OF TIMES”:
LIVE SPOKEN WORD IN ATHENS, GREECE
Shows That Already Happened in 2016:
1/8 Los Angeles, CA @ Dragonfly
2/27 Toronto, ON @ Bloor Cinema
3/4 Westerly, RI @ Knickerbocker
3/5 Hamden, CT @ The Space
3/11 Las Vegas, NV @ Beauty Bar (Neon Reverb Festival)
3/12 Phoenix, AZ @ VIVA PHX Festival
3/24 Cambridge, MA @ OBERON
4/7 Iowa City, IA @ Blue Moose (Mission Creek Festival)
5/21 San Antonio, TX @ 502 Bar
6/27 Grenoble, France @ La Bobine
7/2 Mecklenburg-Vorpommern, Germany @ Fusion Festival
7/9 Kalispell, MT @ Raceway Park (Crown Summer Series)
AUGUST: Sage Francis + B. Dolan bring their special brand of Strange Famous spoken word to EdFringe and the UK:
Aug 5th-27th (20 shows) Edinburgh, Scotland at Stand in the Square
Aug 29th – Manchester @ Deaf Institute
Aug 30th – Leeds @ Brudenell Social Club
Aug 31st – Bristol @ Start the Bus
Sept 1st – London @ The Forge
Sept 2nd – London Live @ Bush Hall
Sept 3rd – Brighton, UK @ Together the People Festival
“Reflections from Hell” prt 1
I just returned home my Going Through Hell Tour, which followed last year’s Copper Gone Tour (163 shows in all.) When I decided to tour again after “retiring” from tour, it was balls to the wall or none at all. But now it’s done. And I’m back to my cave with the ghost of hibernation past breathing its sexy winter breath on the nape of my stiff neck. Ugh…you vixen winter temptress. Nevermind that. The tour shirts are officially discontinued, but the remaining bunch are available in men & women sizes HERE.
Wanna know what I did for my birthday to celebrate my last year of being a dirty thirty-something? ABSOLUTELY FREAKIN’ NOTHING. I already did my thing. In fact, I probably overdid my thing with the last 88 shows by doing virtually everything on my own. I saw things, I heard things, I showed things and I said things. When it felt like I had nothing left to give, I kept giving. When it felt like I had nowhere else to go, I kept going. D.I.Y. or cry. I plan on doing more shows at some point, but there’s no way I could ever do it the way I just did it. That’s how I’m able to make a proper transition. It’s time to focus on my general health and my ambiguous home life. Outside of that, my time will be spent working on art, specifically. I’ll be posting some stories and insights from the road soon, but for now I just want to thank the following places for all the support and hugs:
5/29/14 Stanhope, NJ – Stanhope House
5/30/14 NY, NY – Le Poisson Rouge
5/31/14 Boston, MA – Middle East
6/02/14 Toronto, ON Canada – Opera House
6/03/14 Pittsburgh, PA – Altar Bar
6/05/14 Chicago, IL – The Abbey
6/06/14 Madison, WI – High Noon Saloon
6/07/14 Minneapolis, MN – First Ave
6/09/14 Englewood, CO – Gothic Theatre
6/10/14 Salt Lake City, UT – Urban Lounge
6/11/14 Missoula, MT – Palace Lounge
6/12/14 Vancouver, BC Canada – Fortune Sound Club
6/13/14 Seattle, WA – Neumo’s
6/14/14 Portland, OR – Alhambra Theatre
6/16/14 San Francisco, CA – The Independent
6/17/14 Solana Beach, CA – Belly Up Tavern
6/18/14 Los Angeles, CA – The Troubadour
6/20/14 Phoenix, AZ – The Crescent Ballroom
6/21/14 Albuquerque, NM – Sunshine Theater
6/22/14 El Paso, TX – Tricky Falls
6/25/14 Austin, TX – Mohawk
6/26/14 New Orleans, LA – Southport Hall
6/27/14 Baton Rouge, LA – Spanish Moon
6/29/14 Atlanta, GA – Terminal West
7/01/14 Washington, DC – U Street Music Hall
7/02/14 Philadelphia, PA – Union Transfer
7/04/14 Providence, RI – Fete Ballroom
10/04/14 Reykjavik, Iceland – Húrra
10/09/14 Cork, Ireland – Cyprus Avenue
10/10/14 Sligo, Ireland – Fifth on Teeling
10/11/14 Belfast, Northern Ireland – Voodoo
10/12/14 Dublin, Ireland – Sugar Club
10/14/14 Newcastle, England – Think Tank
10/15/14 Glasgow, Scotland – Oran Mor
10/16/14 Manchester, England – Gorilla
10/17/14 Leeds, England – Brudenell Social Club
10/19/14 Cardiff, Wales – The Globe
10/20/14 Bristol, England – The Fleece
10/21/14 Brighton, England – The Haunt
10/22/14 London, England – Village Underground
10/24/14 Reading, England – The Bowery District
10/25/14 Brussels, Belgium – Botanique
10/26/14 Amsterdam, Netherlands – Melkweg
10/28/14 Paris, France – Point Ephemere
10/29/14 Dijon, France – La Vapeur
10/30/14 Vendome, France – Les Rockomotives
10/31/14 Strasbourg, France – Laiterie
11/02/14 Cologne, Germany – Underground
11/03/14 Hamburg, Germany – Uebel & Gefaehrlich
11/05/14 Copenhagen, Denmark – Vega
11/06/14 Oslo, Norway – Sawol
11/07/14 Stockholm, Sweden – Debaser Strand
11/09/14 Berlin, Germany – Privatclub
11/10/14 Munich, Germany – Ampere
11/12/14 Frankfurt, Germany – Zoom
11/13/14 Geneva, Switzerland – Usine
11/14/14 Zurich, Switzerland – Rote Fabrik
11/15/14 Bern, Switzerland – Dachstock-Reitschule
11/16/14 Vienna, Austria – B72
11/19/14 Lund, Sweden – Mejeriet
11/21/14 Helsinki, Finland – Kuudes Linja
11/22/14 Wroclaw, Poland – FIRLEJ
11/23/14 Prague, Czech Republic – Klub Podnik
11/25/14 Zagreb, Croatia – Mocvara
12/03/14 Adelaide, Australia – Uni Bar
12/04/14 Melbourne, Australia – The Corner Hotel
12/05/14 Sydney, Australia – The Roller Den
12/06/14 Riverwood Downs, Australia – Subsonic Festival
12/07/14 Brisbane, Australia – The Brightside
12/11/14 Wellington, New Zealand – San Fran
12/12/14 Aukland, New Zealand – Cassette Nine
12/19/14 Daegu, South Korea – Jeng-iy Collective
12/20/14 Busan, South Korea – Club Realize
12/28/14 Osaka, Japan – Conpass
12/29/14 Tokyo, Japan – Shibuya Plug
1/24/15 Indio, CA – Date Shed
1/26/15 Fullerton, CA @ Slidebar Cafe
1/28/15 Fresno, CA – Fulton 55
1/29/15 Sacramento, CA – Harlows
1/30/15 San Francisco, CA – Mezzanine
1/31/15 Portland, OR – Alhambra Theatre
2/02/15 Bend, OR – Domino Room
3/12/15 Brooklyn, NY – Knitting Factory
3/13/15 Providence, RI – The Met
3/14/15 Boston, MA – Great Scott
3/15/15 New Haven, CT – Toad’s Place
4/02/15 Atlantic City, NJ – Boneyard
4/03/15 Long Island, NY – Amityville Music Hall
4/04/15 Philadelphia, PA – Kung Fu Necktie
4/05/15 Baltimore, MD – Metro Gallery
4/17/15 Jacksonville – Underbelly
4/19/15 Tampa, FL – Orpheum
4/23/15 Orlando, FL – The Social
5/02/15 Las Vegas, NV – LVCS
5/07/15 Flagstaff, AZ – The Green Room
5/08/15 Tucson, AZ – Congress
5/09/15 Phoenix, AZ – Crescent Ballroom
5/16/15 Narragansett, RI – Wheel House
5/21/15 Santa Barbara, CA – Velvet Jones
5/22/15 San Diego, CA – Casbah
5/23/15 Corona, CA – M15
5/24/15 San Luis Obispo, CA – SLO Brew
5/25/15 Santa Cruz, CA – Catalyst
5/28/15 Honolulu, HI – The Republik
6/13/15 Jackson Hole, WY – Contour Music Festival
6/14/15 Salt Lake City, UT – Urban Lounge
6/17/15 Durango, CO – Animas City Theater
6/18/15 Fort Collins, CO – Aggie Theatre
6/19/15 Denver, CO – Cervantes Masterpiece Ballroom
6/20/15 Colorado Springs, CO – Black Sheep
6/23/15 Albuquerque, NM – Sister Bar
6/25/15 Austin, TX – Red 7
6/26/15 Dallas, TX – Club Dada
6/28/15 New Orleans, LA – Gasa Gasa
6/30/15 Pensacola, FL – Vinyl Music Hall
7/01/15 Gainesville, FL – High Dive
7/02/15 Atlanta, GA – Vinyl
7/03/15 Carrboro, NC – Cat’s Cradle
7/14/15 Kansas City, MO – Riot Room
7/15/15 St. Louis, MO – Firebird
7/16/15 Covington, KY – Madison Theatre
7/17/15 Columbus, OH – The Basement
7/21/15 Pontiac, MI – Crofoot Ballroom
7/22/15 Grand Rapids, MI – Pyramid Scheme
7/23/15 Chicago, IL – Bottom Lounge
7/24/15 Iowa City, IA – Gabe’s
7/25/15 Minneapolis, MN – First Avenue
7/31/15 Durban, South Africa – Freedom Cafe
8/06/15 Johannesburg, South Africa – Iron Tusk
8/07/15 Cape Town, South Africa – The Assembly
8/28/15 Virginia Beach, Virginia – Shakas Live
8/29/15 Washington D.C. – U Street Music Hall
8/30/15 Stanhope, NJ – Stanhope House
9/12/15 Butte, MT – Original Festival
9/13/15 Spokane, WA – Swaxx
9/14/15 Seattle, WA – Neumos
9/16/15 Victoria, BC Canada – Distrikt
9/17/15 Vancouver, BC Canada – Alexander’s
9/18/15 Kelowna, BC Canada – Habitat
9/19/15 Nelson, BC Canada – Spiritbar
9/20/15 Osoyoos, BC Canada – Jo-Jo’s Cafe
9/22/15 Edmonton, AB Canada – Brixx
9/23/15 Lethbridge, AB Canada – Inferno Nightclub
9/24/15 Saskatoon, SK Canada – Amigo’s
9/25/15 Calgary, AB Canada – Dicken’s Pub
9/26/15 Red Deer, AB Canada – Wild Bills
10/03/15 Uppsala, Sweden – Ordsprak Festival
10/16/15 Syracuse, NY – Funk ‘n Waffles
10/17/15 Buffalo, NY – Waiting Room
10/22/15 Guelph, ON Canada – District
10/23/15 Toronto, ON Canada – Adelaide Hall
10/24/15 Ottawa, ON Canada – Ritual
10/26/15 London, ON Canada – Rum Runners
10/29/15 Burlington, VT – Higher Ground
10/30/15 Portland, ME – Port City Music
11/07/15 Newport, KY – Thompson House
11/09/15 Omaha, NE – Waiting Room
11/12/15 Fargo, ND – Aquarium
11/13/15 Duluth, MN – Red Herring
11/14/15 Virginia, MN – Mirage Bar
11/15/15 Madison, WI – High Noon Saloon
Fancy Fran and the South African Fam (2015)
As I embark upon the last leg of what has turned into an eighteen month tour, I realize I’ve only shared scraps of what I’ve experienced this past year. During the big moments I feel inspired to share each story in total detail, but by the time I settle down I’m either too exhausted or busy to type it all out. I suppose that’s why I’m a songwriter instead of a blogger. My songs are not linear play-by-play accounts of what I experience on any given day. Often they’re composite sketches of experiences I’ve had some time to reflect upon as I try to make sense of the big picture. Well, whoopty-frickin’-doo. Heh. A lot of memories get lost in that process. As much as we believe we’ll never forget the precious stuff, time fades the brain. Maybe that’s why our culture has become so picture-crazed. Photos help transport us to specific moments and they help us remember the sights, sounds, scents, etc… I should take more of them, but they never really tell the full story.
As many of you know, I was invited to South Africa in 2011 to partake in a program that was meant to assist HIV+ orphans receive treatment. That trip didn’t turn out to be anything like I thought it would be, and I’ve never been able to properly explain what I witnessed during that period, but I made a strong connection to one particular group of kids. I’ve been fortunate enough to stay in touch with them over time with the great help of my Durban friends, Ewok & Karen. I felt ill-equipped to take on the macro problems (some of which I address in the “Water Into Wine” song,) but Ewok has been instrumental in helping me focus on accomplishing smaller goals — many of which were tackled through the “Ubuntu” fundraiser that I organized once I returned home. With the generosity of your donations, we were able to fix the roof of the kids’ home, purchase bunk beds so they didn’t all have to share the same bed, and we were able to get them things like clothes, school supplies, and food with the remainder of the funds.
When I shared my goodbyes with the kids that first time around, I promised them that I’d return. “Probably next year,” I said. Once the van drove them away, I stepped behind a building to shield myself from the sight of others. Had a little breakdown that day. Had a fair share of breakdowns ever since. I’ve been haunted by many things I witnessed during that first trip, and, yeah — maybe all of this is coming across as melodramatic. Well, la-di-frickin’-da. Heh. I need to keep writing before it all goes away. For now I’ll spare you a bunch of details and skip forward to 2015…
The only break in my tour schedule was during August, so I purchased a flight to South Africa even though I had been unable to lock down a single show in the past 3 years. Thanks to the help of some quick-acting promoters I was able to get gigs in Durban, Johannesburg and Cape Town. The main purpose of my trip, however, was to reunite with the kids and make good on an old promise. When I was finally able to visit them at their home, it was clear that they tried to look as fancy as possible. Adorable, adorable, adorable. Hair all made up, faces all made up, clothes all crisp and freshly laundered. It was like a little fashion show. I’m not sure I looked any different than I did four years prior, and it’s possible I appeared a bit disheveled after all the traveling I had done. They didn’t hold it against me.
Ntokozo, the first of the kids who I made a special connection to in 2011, is 15 years old now and beautiful as ever. When I asked what she’s interested in doing once she’s out of school, she said that she wants to be a singer and an actress. “I’m not shy,” she proclaimed. This is true. I saw her own the stage during a theater performance the first time I visited Durban. When I asked her what songs she likes to sing she didn’t answer. When I asked again, she turned her head away from me as tears streamed down her cheek. It was such a sudden change of mood from the cheerful vibe I’d been enjoying up until that moment. I became concerned that I was being invasive or insensitive somehow. When I asked her what was wrong she said, “I didn’t think I’d ever see you again.” Ah. Straight dagger to the heart. Trying to explain why it took so long for me to return wasn’t worth the excuses at that moment. It was nice to just hold her for a while as her siblings made fun of her for crying. Kids will be kids. I’m sure she’ll survive.
When I returned to see them the next day, I felt like it might be for the last time. Maybe so, maybe not. It’s obviously not the kind of thing that can be promised (though, I fear that I did.) Ewok and I discussed what types of stuff could be fixed in and around their home to make day-to-day life a bit more pleasurable. A bit more safe. The kids were more casual and comfortable overall on this day. There was a return to normalcy and silliness. We made fun of each other’s accents while attempting to speak in each other’s tongue. Their English remains to be a lot better than my Zulu will ever be, but they can’t make the round “R” sounds. I can’t make their click/pop sounds. It’s always a fun exercise for cheap laughs.
When it was time for us to say our final goodbyes, the kids decided to tag their names on my arm. Ntokozo wrote her full name, pointing out her surname, and then she told me when her birthday was. Because I keep missing it for some reason. Zakheni, the older brother, was too cool and reserved to interact much, but that couldn’t save him from a departing hug from “Big Show.” His friends pointed and laughed. I’m sure he’ll survive. Zinhle, one of the elder sisters, put lipstick on me without warning. I didn’t fight it. I’ll survive.
Clearly, it was my turn to be fancy.
Copper Gone 1 Year Anniversary + NEW VIDEO!
Today is the one year anniversary of Copper Gone! To help us celebrate, Strange Famous Records is offering 30% off all CG-related items. Use the code “CG1YR” at checkout: https://sfrstore.myshopify.com/collections/copper-gone
If you’ve already supported by purchasing the album, some gear, or a show ticket, I’d like to force an ice cream scooper through my chest and offer each of you a heart dollop. The fact that Copper Gone hit Billboard’s Top 200 the first week of its release was a proud moment for all of us at SFR. Many obstacles have been placed in our path, and media elites have all but written us off, but we’re still able to hit significant milestones thanks to the constant support of the fans. That’s what makes these accomplishments especially sweet for me. That’s often what pushes me through the exhaustion. As many of you may have noticed, I’ve toured practically non-stop since this time last year, and the dates keep piling up. I can’t play everywhere at once, and I can’t please everyone at once, but I’m grateful as hell to have the ability and opportunity to keep going.
With every dollop of my ice creamy heart…THANK YOU.
This portrait was made entirely with bread crumbs. The person who made it calls himself Pedalstrike. His work is amazing. You can read his explanation in regard to this Uncle Sage portrait here. Part of that writeup reminded me of a poem I included in my Personal Journals booklet by Bill MacMillan called “The World’s Worst Rapper.” I’ll leave this here and wish Pedalstrike the very best in all future endeavors:
the world’s worst rapper is a devotee of the old school
understands the importance of knowing your roots
is the neighborhood historian hip hop
he has memorized the soundtracks to krush groove & beat street
owns everything by kurtis blow & grandmaster flash
can trace musical influences like an anthropologist
the world’s worst rapper has stepped up to the verbal plate only once
an ugly incident remembered by no one but himself
now he plays the interested observer when friends flip to freestyling
in a circle of would-be stars, he is the audience everyone plays to
the worlds worst rapper has never been jealous of others
he is always encouraging, supportive, never a negative word
he wishes he could work the words but sits silent instead
fear & failure keeping him closed
dreams deferred become dreams denied
the world’s worst rapper works in a record store to feed his vinyl addiction
keeps up on the latest sounds, can spot a winner a mile away
uses his discount to keep tables turning & mixes fresh
provides the musical steel the local DJs will fire-hammer
into soundtracks for saturday night sessions
the world’s worst rapper has a lot of friends, is well liked
he has never been beaten down or harassed
he has never been kissed
he sits alone at night on the fire escape of his apartment
listens to queen latifah & draws the faces from his day into an old notebook
tito, d.j., mikhaila, the lost & confused tourist
the young woman in his store who picked up the lil’ kim CD
his drawings are masterpieces sketches of ordinary people
done with all the all the love he feels for them
he sees timeless beauty in everyone
the world’s worst rapper is an artist who doesn’t know it
so focused on the failed dream of rap stardom
that the talent he does have is overlooked, scratched out
he is the silence between the beats
he may never know just how close he is to wonder
& no song can ever make up for that
…& so the
…& so the beat
Are You Adult Enough to Use a Flag as a Cape?
Apparently, capes were too soon for Madonna.
I’ve been rocking this SFR flag as a cape for over 10 years though. LIKE A CAPE PRO. No accidents, no injuries, no diseases, nothing. It just provides the super human strength needed to keep my indie grind going. Oh, and they’re finally available to the public HERE: www.tinyurl.com/SFRflagcape
My SFR flag is probably the most requested item at shows. Some people offer to pay for it, but usually they’re just like, “Gimme that cape, man. PLEEEEEAAAASE!” Well, I couldn’t sell it or give it away as only one was made. And it’s for me. However, after ten years, we finally figured out a way to manufacture 100 of them at a price that wasn’t ridiculously high. So, no, I still can’t give them away. But if you really are about that cape life, or you want to let your freak flag fly, get this before it’s no longer available.
House of Bees 3 is Here! Track-by-Track Breakdown
Welcome B. Dolan & Buddy Peace‘s new baby to the world! HOUSE OF BEES 3 can be purchased in a variety of physical forms and packages here. All House of Bees Vol. 3 orders include an INSTANT MP3 Download!
We’ve been waiting a long time time to let you hear some of these tracks and tell you the stories behind them, so grab a copy in your format of choice and dig in to B. Dolan’s track-by-track breakdown below.
The trilogy is complete mannnnn. It’s a celebration. Let’s get into it!
1. CARETAKER ft. DAN LE SAC, HOWABOUTBETH
The reason I’ve come to love the House of Bees series is the opportunity it gives me to chart the progress between albums. Sometimes, without the restrictions or pressure of making 100% original, sample free songs for an official collection, things come a bit easier and breakthroughs just sort of happen.
I chose to open the tape with ‘Caretaker’ because in making it with Dan Le Sac, I accidentally learned to write a new kind of song, gave myself a direction for the new LP, and co-created one of the favorite joints I’ve ever made. Dan’s synth-heavy beat is an absolute monster, which allowed me to write a more personal kind of story than I’d told in awhile. I’d also been wanting to write better choruses, and suddenly found myself singing the hook! Woah. I can do that? Yeah, fuggit I can do that! We hollered at HOWABOUTBETH who’s a real singer and brought incredible life to the words and melody I’d put down, and voila!
I’ve put this method of writing hooks and hollering at talented vocalists to bring them to life to good use, which you’ll hear more of later on in the year. “Caretaker” was a new kind of insect once it came to life; a high powered cyborg propeller-headed purple Bee, even. It banged in the whip but had a new kind of musicality, and felt like a new kind of song. It set me on a path, so it gets to kick things off.
2. NATURAL BORN TROUBLE
Oh, BUDDY PEACE. Please never stop sending me fully formed songs that I just need to fill in the spaces and rap over. I’m pretty sure Buddy sent me this instrumental in it’s finished form days after we completed VOL. 2. I’m blessed to work with collaborators who know me not only in an artistic way, but on a personal level due to the years we’ve spent in tour vehicles together. Buddy heard the source material and knew this’d get a good song out of me. That’s a rare connection to have with a producer, and why we’ve come this far, dammit!
Also, that bit about taking promoters to the cash machine? Absolutely true. In fact, I once took a promoter to his mother’s house 35 minutes outside Minneapolis at 2AM. Trouble.
3. HON3Y FROM A B33
Here’s the thing: I don’t wanna stop making songs with Buddy Peace until 20 minutes before both of us are dead. Don’t think the end of this series is the end of our collaboration. But when I heard this beat I was like ‘hot damn another dope bee song! Jesus… How many more of these can there … Bee.” Also, 3 is a psychologically pleasing number, no? The father, the son, and Return of the Jedi.
Shouts out to Market Basket. Streetwear brands stop biting my shit!
4. THE DEVIL IS ALIVE
You hear that bass? No, seriously. Turn it up in the whip. Don’t you dare listen to that bass on laptop speakers. That’s DS3K, the new engineer we’ve been working with on the new material coming out this year. Buddy expertly reconstructed the beat and 3K made it bang properly. Get ready for sonic mayhem this year.
As for the subject matter, it speaks for itself. When I heard the original Rick Ross song on which this joint was based, something finally snapped in my brain. “BITCH IM THE TRUTH!” said a former correctional officer who poses as a real drug kingpin for a living. I’d been baffled by the cognitive dissonance going on in with this dude’s career for years, but the brazenness of that statement was really just… Too fucking much.
Minus the political realities of the crack epidemic and the Iran-Contra affair’s connection to Freeway Ricky Ross’ story, what an incredible case-study of stolen identity and schizophrenic American culture.
It was a daunting task to tell Freeway Rick’s story, knowing he’s a real dude walking around in the world. I was in Europe when we released “The Devil is Alive”, and I received an email requesting a phone call from Rick himself. I braced myself for some bullshit; we’d sampled his voice, said he ‘sold death to the deaf dumb & blind.’ Imagine my relief and validation when I found out he liked the song. A lot. Fuckin a. Job done.
5. RADIO STOCKHOLM FREESTYLE
This was recorded in 2010. When I was drunk on the internet? Sage & I were on tour in support of L(I)FE and FALLEN HOUSE, SUNKEN CITY and doing a radio show somewhere in Stockholm. I’m sorry I referred to women as “females” in this verse. I’ve since come to regret that. But such is the danger of freestyle, totally off the dome raps. Wink/nudge.
6. SOLDIER BOY ft. SCROOBIUS PIP (YOU BETTER RUN RMX)
Another favorite collaboration that’s happened in the past few years, reworked by Buddy. Is that oil dripping in the beat? I like to think it is. That drum & bass ass break. Shittttt. Props to SCROOBIUS PIP for inviting me onto the original, and on a number of tours during which we’ve started big sweaty mosh pits with this one. Oi!
7. SEAT AT THE TABLE ft. WORLDWIDE
Matt Sonzala AKA Pushermania introduced me to Worldwide’s stuff on a trip to Austin last year, and I was instantly a fan. The beat on this one was produced by myself & DS3K and was originally part of a batch we created for use on the official LP. For whatever reason, a song never came together on it until this December when we were finalizing HOB3, and I took the opportunity to speak on some rappers and personalities who’ve been grossing me out of late. Anybody can take it however they want.
Turn. That. Shit. UP!
8. MADGE TRIES TO RECORD A DROP
Dear Madge of Honor. You are so intentionally bad/good at things. This lady edits my life. I owe her more than you’ll ever know. You made the album, ma!
9. STATE TROOPER
At least once per mixtape, I gotta be allowed to indulge in some Failure-y self indulgence and let my freak flag fly. I hope the Hip Hop Police let me off with a warning. “STATE TROOPER” is a Bruce Springsteen song that I’ve deeply loved and drawn inspiration from for years. For me, it’s a study in how to tell the biggest story with the fewest words, and haunting in a way I can only hope to someday equal.
Talking about this song with Buck 65 years ago, he mentioned that it had always sounded like a Suicide song to him. If you’re not familiar with that group, check out “Frankie Teardrop” for one of the more fucked up things you’ve heard ever.
And so it was that some late night in the studio, we decided to turn “State Trooper” into a Suicide song for real.
9b. EVEL TALKS ABOUT BUTTE
I have literally no memory of creating this. Can’t tell you the When, the Why, or even the How. It was just on my hard drive… For many years. I can attest that that’s my voice.
10. THE HISTORY OF ATLANTIS
This is a demo that was created for FALLEN HOUSE, SUNKEN CITY, probably sometime around 2009. That album was an exploration of the idea of Atlantis from a bunch of angles: people that are like lost cities; pre-apocalyptic civilization; etc. etc. Something about this track, which talked about hip hop as a lost civilization, seemed a bit too literal at the time. It got cannibalized into a couple separate ideas.
The first verse sort of became Earthmovers, with it’s third person telling of colonization, and the concept as a whole sort of became The Fall of T.R.O.Y. If you like this one blame Sage, who kept reminding me of it and urging me to put it on a HOUSE OF BEES release.
11. YOU CAN’T WIN ft. SAGE FRANCIS (EPIC B-BOY RMX)
“When are we gonna get an Epic Beard Men album?!” they cry. Well, I can only say that I’ve got a folder on my desktop that’s filling up with beats and song concepts. So you know, that might mean anytime from next year ’til 5 years from now.
In the meantime, I love this remix. It’s crafty. Just my style.
I’ve already gushed about BUDDY PEACE quite a bit, so I’m not gonna do that again. Just kidding. I love the dude, and he’s a fucking genius. This series has meant a lot to both of us and it’s been incredible to experiment and create with him on it over the past 6 years. We have made some legendary tapes, goddamit, and the man will always be my motherfuckin’ DJ. For chrissake, I asked him for a sample of a cartoony voice exclaiming “Thanks!” that perfectly matched my cadence on “HON3Y FROM A B33″ and HE HAD ONE. IN DAYS. I love ya, bruh. CODA means “end,” but this is far from that.
13. THE DEVIL & JACK MCCARTHY
This track took me 5 years to make. Let me say that again. This single track. Took 5 years.
Jack McCarthy was the poet who inspired me to try spoken word, many lifetimes ago. Those who saw him read will forever remember his voice and style, which were both instantly comfortable and full of presence. In 2009, Jack was on a tour of New England and I asked him to pay my studio a visit on his way through the region. We recorded this poem, written by a famous songwriter and poet who must remain nameless due to how often his shitty heirs sue people.
Finding music to fit this acapella was no small task. That’s the part that took 5 years. We tried numerous approaches with numerous iterations of my production setup, but it was only last year when I finally had the right musicians for this job in my circle. Along with ADAM SCHNEIDER, Myself and DS3K created the epic, Ennio Morricone inspired backdrop a dice game with the devil required. We recorded live guitars, violins, and upright bass. We enlisted ALIAS’ help for the vocal processing and final mix. It had originally been my intention to make this the first or last song on the official LP, but the aforementioned legal issues ultimately made that a bad idea.
Jack McCarthy passed away in 2013 at the age of 73. I strongly urge fans of spoken word to check out his incredible body of work, which can be found at STANDUPOET.NET. A painting of Jack hangs above my writing desk. He is sorely missed and fondly remembered by everyone who knew him.
14. KING BEE (LIVE IN LIVERPOOL)
To close things out, we’ve included a preview of the new live band setup. With any luck, we’re taking this motherfucker around the world in 2015, and as you can hear the sound is huge. The setup was engineered by DS3K and arranged by Adam Schneider under my direction, and this recording features Warren Borg on guitar, Paul Glover on drums, and Buddy Peace on the 1s & 2s. The energy created by this setup live is nothing short of explosive, and I definitely hope people get a chance to experience it before the years out.
Annnnnnnd that’s it! Hope you’ve enjoyed listening and reading. Thanks as always for your incredible support and see you soon!