Sage Francis, Sick of Wasting

Sage Francis, Sick of Wasting

It’s hard to know at first if Sage Francis wants to be taken seriously on his latest mixtape, Sick of Wasting, with song titles like “Masterbate Your Brain” and “Who Farted_pt 1.” Then he comes at you, though, with a purist, traditionalist interpretation of hip-hop, lyric-oriented with battle-rap cleverness and stripped-down beats, that suggests that Sage Francis is anything but a joke.

Sage Francis has been around for awhile now, building himself up from obscurity in the hip-hop underground circuit to earn the distinction of being the first hip-hop artist signed to Epitaph Records before going on to make his own label, Strange Famous Records, official.

The best part of Sick of Wasting, which is his first mixtape in five years, is the production. The beats hark back to the roots of hip-hop, when it was just a sample and a drumbeat, the DJ was an integral part of the song process, often scratching in choice tidbits and quotes that integrated seamlessly into the MC’s flow, and the music was a platform for the lyricist to showcase his talent, not an over-amped production designed to conceal the lyricist’s deficiencies. While you won’t be dropping it like it’s hot or doing the stanky leg, you will be consistently bobbing your head throughout.

The opener “Strange Fame,” which includes a sample from David Bowie’s “Fame,” left me lukewarm. Sage Francis’ attempts at being humorous and self-effacing are less effective than when he’s in battle mode, politically charged and aggressive. I’ll admit, though, that I was impressed when he rapped he’d rather give the music away for free than have to clear the samples and then followed through by offering Sick of Wasting as a free download at http://www.strangefamousrecords.com/store/sage-francis-sick-of-wasting-free-download-p-294.html. (Sorry, Sage, but I don’t think that’s going to be enough to indemnify you if David Bowie decides to sue your ass.)

Halfway through the mixtape, at “If I Go to Hell,” is when Sage really begins to shine. The songs take on a gritty feel, the production value isn’t as lush, and conversely, the lyrics are more biting and poignant. As far as the ending track, “Who Farted_pt 1,” I’ll let you be the judge of that.

(Strange Famous Records -- P.O. Box 2509, Providence, RI. 02906; http://www.strangefamousrecords.com/; Sage Francis -- http://www.myspace.com/sagefrancis)
BUY ME:

Review by . Review posted Saturday, October 17th, 2009. Filed under Features, Reviews.

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