I'll be honest. A few years back Aesop Rock almost put me off white rappers - with the exception being the Beastie Boys, El-P, and the always two or three amazing tracks from every Eminem album. Aesop Rock's overly pretentious metaphors seemed like art school crap to me. The immediacy I loved about hip-hop was missing. If I wanted poetry I'd rather pick up Hughes, Plath, or Ginsberg.
I'll also admit, because of the aforementioned reasons, I was hesitant about Sage Francis's first release, A Healthy Distrust, on legendary punk rock label Epitaph.
I am hesitant no more. This is what you get when you mix the Sex Pistols and Bad Religion with a heavy dose of Public Enemy and N.W.A. You're going to want to call this "underground," but I'll call it serious white boy venom.
A Healthy Distrust is void of any superstar producers (with the slight exception possibly being Danger Mouse of Grey Album fame). However, the producers on board place Francis's vocals purposely low in the mix, only adding menace to the already grimy, apocalyptic sound.
Opener "Buzz Kill" salutes the French, "for their political dissent," though this is more of a middle finger to Bush instead of a thumbs up to Chirac, who, let's say, had his own "interests" to protect in Iraq.
"Gunz Yo" plays on certain American musicians obsession with guns, and produces one of the album's best quotables: "Because I know that only stupid people increase the birth rates/ I'm just about dumb enough to hold up a sperm bank." Danger Mouse's fuzzed-out production sounds straight up nasty.
The best, and easily most political, track comes near the end of the album. "Slow Down Ghandi" is filled with anger fuelled lines such as: "The rich get richer 'til the poor get educated," or, "Friendly fire? / That's a funny term like civil war," and, yeah there's more, "You need to cut the noose, but you don't believe in scissors/ You support the troops by wearing yellow ribbons? /Just bring home my motherfucking brothers and sisters/Call a stop to the abuse of authority/The truth keeps calling me, and I'm a live to tell the story." Damn. Nothing more needs to be said.
Whereas, the two clowns, Bush and Kerry, tried to paint a picture of there being two Americas, Sage Francis's A Healthy Distrust is yet another example of the millions of microcosms that currently make up a very diverse United States.
This is the sound of America vomiting from within because of its own actions - and I love it.
Once more, please!
By Jason Burleson