Sage Francis' new record 'A Healthy Distrust' is featured in Muchmusic.com's Listening Lounge. Go href='http://www.muchmusic.com/music/listeninglounge/album.asp?llCreditID=5333' target='_blank'>HERE to preview five tracks from the upcoming record.
Here is a great Sage Francis article from Recoil Magazine:
His relative youth aside, Sage Francis already stands as a grandfather figure in the indie rap world. Rapping for nearly 20 years, although only 27-years-old, Francis brings an old-school integrity to his new-school rhymes. His schooling, at the University of Rhode Island, shouldn't go without mentioning, as it afforded him the time to begin working in radio and writing, form his political views and develop a groundbreaking, confessional style of flow. His biggest break came shortly after college while performing at a poetry slam at New York City's legendary CBGB's. Representatives from ABC/ESPN in attendance took note and invited him to contribute some spoken word material for promos for the X-Games. With a solid savings established from doing the spots, Francis then ventured underground, churning through clubs across the country with his crew, Non-Prophets, releasing bootlegged live and radio material and building up a nationwide word-of-mouth respect, all before dropping his full-length solo debut, Personal Journals, in 2002. A Non-Prophets debut soon followed and he then became the first hip-hop artist on the predominantly punk Epitaph Records roster, setting the stage for such like-minded acts as Atmosphere and Eyedea & Abilities. Francis issued some words of wisdom with Recoil last month in anticipation of his own Epitaph debut, A Healthy Distrust, on Feb. 8.
Recoil: Being a white rapper out of Rhode Island, how many difficulties and stereotypes have you had to overcome in gaining credibility as a rapper?
Sage Francis: Adversity comes in many forms. Being white and from Rhode Island were some of the easiest things to overcome. It's really too typical to focus on those things. I mean, all you've got to do to overcome the Rhode Island white-boy thing is rap better than the people trying to clown you. If I couldn't do that then I couldn't justify taking things as far as I have. What I really need to overcome is this never-ending sore throat.
R: While you were coming up you made sure to stay in school until you completed your Associate's and Bachelor's degrees. How important has continuing your education been to you as a rapper and how important do you feel it is for others to continue to further their education?
SF: It wasn't important to me as a rapper at all. It did buy me some time though. That time was damn expensive, unfortunately. What is important about getting a degree was the safety net it provided me in case this music thing never took off to a degree where I could live off of it. I don't endorse college per se, but I do endorse safety nets. Music careers do not take off for most people. I've seen many people ruin their lives because they were so self-absorbed and they didn't even consider a plan B. Dipshits. False confidence is a mother.
R: How much did it help your career early on being around the university community and college radio where more people seem to be more open to new things?
SF: It was very good for me to meet different kinds of people with different backgrounds and different passions. It was refreshing because I come from a very homogenous community. Growing up with a town full of Irish Catholics really gives you a warped perspective of truth. It was great to involve myself in activist groups and have access to a college station and run a poetry reading. College was great for a lot of reasons, none of which were included in my tuition.
R: How did your time working at CBGB's poetry slams help broaden people's interest in and respect for your abilities?
SF: I had some friends doing stuff down at CBGB's when I was living in NYC. I was already attending the poetry functions and they needed a DJ so they paid me twenty dollars to spin music at the Bowery Poetry Series. I don't think it mattered that people knew I was a DJ, but it kept me involved and got me some easy money which was very important at that time.
R: What ultimately led you to get involved with ABC, ESPN and ESPN 2's X-Games?
SF: They were looking to feature some spoken word artists on their X-Games program so they came down to CBGB's on a night that I won the poetry slam. They asked me and a few friends of mine to do some spots for them that would appear between some X-Games segments. It was fun. It was more money than I had ever seen from anywhere else and I got to ski for free and know that people back home who thought I was chasing an impossible dream would see me on network television.
R: Since then, your rise to fame has taken much more of an underground route, through the Internet, bootlegging and constant touring. Do you feel you'd be where you are today without mp3 technology and the Internet and the massive impact word of mouth can have through those things?
SF: Before the file trading I was stuck in the New England area waiting for a label to come along and see that I had something of worth for them to work with. There's only so much touring you can do outside of your local area if you can't get your music distributed. But file trading put the music listener back in the driver's seat, and it gave my music the exposure it needed for touring to be possible. Because the music sold itself rather than a promotion team selling an image to the world, making people think they had to buy my album just to keep up to date on what's hot. I didn't even truly understand the power and popularity of this all until I found myself doing a show in Sweden and the whole crowd was singing along to the lyrics. This was before I even had an official album out. Now the major labels are scrambling because their chokehold has been loosened a bit. Fuck 'em.
R: How do you think these advancements in technology have changed the hip-hop game?
SF: It gave the underground a much stronger presence. Again, because the music was then able to sell itself and you didn't have to rely on a distributor or promotion company to get your album outside of your local area. This made more people from all over the globe become more active in hip-hop who previously may have not thought there was a place for them. You get the good and the bad with that -- mostly the bad, but that's just like anything else. More divisions were made. Things got a bit confusing. I mean, certain groups were able to rise to popularity without Hot 106 or The Source knowing who the hell they are. That changes the game considerably, because it ruins the monopoly that some people wish they still had on info control.
R: Why did it take so long for you to release your first full-length album, Personal Journals?
SF: I've had the ability to put together a full-length album for a long, long time. However, I did not have enough resources, financial backing, nor enough business sense to do an official album justice. So I had to wait it out. Anticon was the first competent label that reached out and offered to put out my album and the timing was perfect. Sure, I could have put out an album when I was twelve, fourteen, sixteen, twenty... but I am damn glad I didn't.
R: Your song, "Makeshift Patriot," was written in reaction to the media mishandling of September eleven. Do you think the media has improved, or degraded, in its coverage of major events since then, particularly disastrous ones like the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq, the terrorist situations in Russia or even the tsunami's aftermath in Southeast Asia?
SF: Fox News is a hoot. I get a big kick out of it. I watch it and laugh and laugh and when I am sure that I am all by myself that smile slowly melts into a trembling lip. And I cry and cry and wonder how it is possible that such slanted media can get away with the 'Fair and Balanced' slogan. There should be legal repercussions for the kind of lies they tell on a regular basis. And this is true with a lot of American media. To answer your question, no, media has not improved a single bit. It continues to get more sensational and less informative by the week. When I travel abroad I am glued to the news channels because they are so informative on so many different things. You get brain cavities watching American news television.
R: Do you feel the election and all of its excessive bravado has helped make people more critical of the government, regardless of party affiliation, than they were post-nine-eleven? Do you think this will last or will people become apathetic or blindly patriotic until four years from now?
SF: Nothing has changed. It's been like this for a long time. Most people have fallen right back into their comfortably uninformed seating assignment. It doesn't matter if they trust the government or not, because they are programmed to feel helpless and that makes them complacent in whatever situation they are given. We are a blue-collar country, and the worker bees are a little too busy trying to pay off lifelong debts to give a shit about what the old white man does behind the curtain. In four years they should be prompted to reevaluate their situation and what it was like compared to when they were most happy in their life. Drastic change will come only when people collectively realize that the government has not been looking after their best interest. That's a very difficult thing for many people to accept, because we want to believe that our great nation is led by noble and honorable people. Not only that, but knowing a better alternative takes much more energy and research than most people have, and you sure as hell aren't going to get much help from the war-profiteering media, this is why a fair and free media is so crucial in any democracy.
R: What main message do you hope your fans get out of your new disc, A Healthy Distrust?
SF: I don't know if there is a main message. I went into that project with a couple things in mind. I hope it prompts people to question their surroundings and the situations in their life. I want people to make changes for the better if they find it in their power. Don't believe in my particular truths -- just put them into consideration. If they make sense to you then we may find ourselves wearing the same jersey color some day, who knows? [Laughs.] Look at your world from different perspectives if you can, and do your best to be fair with the world.