A Bard’s Eye View: Artist Profile – Sage Francis

Artist Profile
Sage Francis

Country of origin: United States
Genres: Hip hop, Spoken word, Alternative hip hop, Rap rock, Country rap, Anti-folk
Years active: 2004-current
Current members: Sage Francis
Number of albums: 5
Number of concerts attended: 4
Notable cameos on artist’s records: B. Dolan

Sage Francis is an artist I was first exposed to in 2010 when I became much more interested in discovering more hip hop.  I was invited to see him perform in 2010 and a few months to become more familiar with his music a few months prior to seeing him.  Li(f)e had released around the same time so I had ample time to become familiar with this record as well.

Sage Francis is known for being extremely talented with wordplay and his use of metaphors and personification.  Like Scroobius Pip, his early beginnings were in spoken word poetry.  He has participated and won in the Scribble Jam contest (2000) and gained notoriety for the song “Makeshift Patriot” in 2001 which is a criticism of mainstream media after the September 11th attacks.  He also is known for being the first hip hop artist to join Epitaph and did a song with Bad Religion called “Let them Eat War” (which I have featured on this website before).

In 2002, Personal Journals released.  This album is fairly angsty even for Sage Francis standards.  There are a lot of really mellow melodies which is a pretty stark contrast to the more involved beat that you hear in his music these days.  Some of the best Sage Francis songs can be found on this record.  “Crack Pipes”, “Climb Trees”, “Specialist”, and the spoken word track “Hopeless” is on this album.

A Healthy Distrust was released in 2005 and charted #17 on the Billboard Independent records chart.  This album features a little bit of the grassroots type of sound that is heavily prevalent in Li(f)e.  The particularly notable songs on this album were “Sea Lion”, “Gunz Yo”, “Escape Artist”, and “Slow Down Gandhi”.

In 2007, Human the Death Dance came out.  This album is a little more personal and more mature, discussing things in Sage Francis’s life more directly.  The song “Underground for Dummies” discusses the dichotomy and balance of trying to reach an audience while keeping true to the things that your longtime fans have always enjoyed.  He also discusses a lot of his career in this one particular song.  Some other songs I really enjoy on the album are “Civil Disobedience”, “Clickety Clack”, and “Waterline”.

Li(f)e, the 2010 album is the album by Sage Francis that I know the best.  I would call it his most mature and diverse album.  There are elements of country and anti-folk in the album and the album is very introspective.   The album’s first song, “Little Houdini” is a narrative about a real person.  You should definitely check it out (listed below) because it is a compelling story.  Also, “The Best of Times” has become a crowd favorite and is (to my knowledge) his closing song on every show that he performs.  That song is an extremely emotional take about growing up and how hard it can be.  “I Was Zero” is also a good one.

“Coppergone” was released after a short hiatus.  Musically, it is much different than the previous album, relying on more electronic sounds and beats.  The more I listen to it, the more I really enjoy it.  The lyrical content is just as witty and full of wordplay as the previous albums but the flow seems to be a little more polished.

Thanks for checking out some Sage Francis.  I’m sure he’ll be touring here soon and I will be seeing him within the next year (I hope?).  I will have, as usual, detailed information about that when it happens.  As for next week?  I haven’t decided who we’re looking at so it’ll be a surprise!




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