Sage Francis is interviewed by!

By virtue of being on Epitaph, and even more so by appearing on the last Bad Religion CD, you're sure to be a lot of punk rock kids' first encounter with hip hop (not counting what they see on TV). Does that put a lot of pressure on you?

I didn't feel pressure like that. I have a warped perspective I guess, but I think most kids these days are brought up in a hiphop world. It's inescapable. I find it very hard to believe that I am anybody's first encounter with hiphop, unless I am performing at the oldest library in the world for a bunch of old folks (which I have done.) The pressure was more on Bad Religion for allowing a rapper to be on a song of theirs, because there is always going to be certain backlash from some segment of your fan base when you cross genres like that. The song is really good and we matched each other well in style and subject matter...that's all that matters.

Your lyrics sound like they're delivered stream of consciousness, but on the other hand, so meticulous that I can only imagine that they're carefully revised and rewritten. Is there a combination of spontaneity and feedback processes in your lyric-writing?
It often starts as a freestyle and then it goes through many revisions and sometimes while recording I go back into improv mode to keep it fresh and in the moment. I don't have one way of doing things. It really all depends on how I am feeling at the moment of creating it and recording it. I've come to realize that it's impossible to make anything I do sound the way I expect it to the way I hear it in my I stay open to the variables.

On "A Healthy Distrust" you work with a lot of different DJs. I would have guessed that would've made it hard to make a cohesive album, but that's not the case at all. Is it a challenge to maintain direction working with so many different people?

It's a meticulous process. I receive many beats from many producers and I pick and choose out of those beats which ones match the mood I am going for. And which beats work well enough with one another. Then we build from there. Since it is all recorded and mixed in the same place, with my concept of how the record should sound in mind, the cohesion is there.

Looking back at what it was like being one of the rock-aligned kids in high school, and how unacceptable it was to listen to anything remotely urban, and comparing it to now where a hip hop artist (and now we've probably got, what, four of them?) on America's punk rock headquarters - has the music scene changed, or have I just grown up?

Both. I understand what you are saying, but the music scene is less segregated and we are all growed up.

You don't do collaborations with other rappers on your albums.
Perhaps in the future? Or do you intend to work with other rappers for
other projects?

I work with rappers on other projects. I have stayed away from having other rappers on my albums though. There's many reasons for that. I don't think I should list those reasons though.

Interview: Sage Francis
Tim Krysko Tue Jun 14 2005
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