Rapper, activist, and cultural provocateur Sage Francis offers his most personal and fully realized work on Human The Death Dance, his second Anti/Epitaph release. With topics ranging from 9-to-5 cubicle madness to addiction to sex and hip hop, Francis delves into very real issues with wit and intensity. On moving tracks like "Hell Of A Year", "Woke Up This Morning" and "Keep Moving," Sage examines broken relationships with a brutal honesty reminiscent of Dylan's Blood On The Tracks. Hailing from Providence RI, Sage has a unique place in hip hop history, building a huge fanbase through tireless grassroots self promotion, as chronicled in the CD opener "Undergound for Dummies." Equally comfortable in rap battle or a poetry slam, Francis will hit the road this spring in support of Human the Death Dance, with Buck 65 and Alias, a highly anticipated tour for fans of hip-hop and alternative alike.
After cutting his teeth in spoken-word and rap-battle circuits, Sage Francis launched into hip-hop, sort of. On his first handful of nationally visible solo records (Known Unsoldier being the must-have of the bunch), Francis knotted his stylistic roots, mixing his vocal skills in an emcee's equivalent of cracking his knuckles. As Non-Prophets--with DJ Joe Beats--he signaled his hip-hop arrival on Hope, with referential credentials blaring over beat-down backdrops. Of course, he'll tell you all this himself, and more, and does. The first proper track on Human the Death Dance, "Underground for Dummies" brings all comers up to speed on the Francis oeurve. Thus primed, Francis outs with the clearest presentation of his entire, moody, linguistic repertoire. He's had it in him for years, but this time around, he learned to make a mix tape. In one exemplary run, "Got Up This Morning" brings in revenant folkie Jolie Holland for a back-porch jam that rags on the deserving Charles Bukowski, then "Good Fashion" muscles forward, percussion-free, on the strength of a pounding string ensemble. Finally, "Clickety Clack" explodes forward in a thunderous, dungenous groove. It's hip-hop, sort of, but if this is a death dance, good riddance to the deceased. --Jason Kirk