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Human the Death Dance

4.3 out of 5 stars 19 customer reviews

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Audio CD, May 8, 2007
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Editorial Reviews

Product Description

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.

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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
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Product Details

  • Audio CD (May 8, 2007)
  • Number of Discs: 1
  • Label: Epitaph
  • ASIN: B000OMD4D4
  • Average Customer Review: 4.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (19 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #62,867 in Music (See Top 100 in Music)

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Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Audio CD
I love Sage Francis. I just wanted to get that out of the way before all of you dismiss me as a "hater" and hit the "not helpful" button. That's exactly why this album disappointed me as much as it did. Personal Journals was a revelation for me. At the time that I first heard it, I was basically your average white kid trying to convince himself he could be a gangsta rapper one day. Personal Journals was my window into a newer, more fulfilling world of hip-hop, a soulful, poetic, sometimes beautiful album unlike anything I had heard before.

A year after I first heard that album, a year in which I had familiarized myself with the likes of Atmosphere, Aesop Rock, Brother Ali, El-P, and the long list of names most of you are doubtlessly familiar with, A Healthy Distrust arrived. Here was an entirely different album, a fiery, politically motivated, intelligent album which showed a side of Sage only touched upon in previous outings. It was still definitively Sage Francis, but it was a unique album in its own right, with a new sound and a new message. It represented what every album for every artists ideally should: artistic development.

Between then and now, my musical tastes have branched out and changed. I've looked through all of the "Sick" series and "Hope." These albums provided me with some good material, and some skippable material. I've branched beyond hip-hop. I've found new hip-hop. When I heard that Sage was planning a new album, I was understandably excited. I got the package from Strange Famous a few days after the album hit shelves, and popped it into my computer.

It started off slow. The intro was pointless.
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Format: Audio CD
It's hard to follow up a brilliant album like "A Healthy Distrust," but somehow Sage has done it.

Mixing traditional hip-hop production with unique new beats (or lack thereof in the songs produced by Mark Isham) "Human the Death Dance" is a solid mix tape of Sage's past albums and personas. But rather than mix old songs, it's entirely new (and in many ways), groundbreaking, material.

Simply put, it's everything you've ever wanted to hear from Sage Francis on one album. And if you've never heard him before, it's a crash course in Strange Famous himself. There's something for everyone here.

And stop callin' it emo...waaahhhh.
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Format: Audio CD
If you've heard Sage Francis before and you're considering buying this album, do yourself a big favor, and buy it.

Before I got this album, I had only heard about 8 songs of his from several years ago (Majority Rule, Hey Bobby, etc.). I thought that his stuff was great, but like my expectations of a lot of independent artists, I thought that it was probably just a fluke. You know, the artist fades into obscurity, never advancing.

Well, Sage proved me wrong on this one. He's advancing by leaps and bounds.

This album, Human Death Dance, brought back everything I learned to love about hip hop: Braking the mold, Love of fresh word & rhyme, beats and music that make you realize what you are hearing is totally new.

It starts off with a cool little montage of old recordings he had of himself rapping when he was a kid - then the next track "Underground for Dummies" is a summary of his experiences starting out, his naivete as his strength, managers, etc... his influences (very cool). The background music sounds like nostalgic memories (hints of 80's pop music?) with the end result being a sound in hiphop I've never heard before. It's timeless and an instant classic.

I could go on for every song on this album ("Clickety Clack" blew me away!) but I recommend you get this album, open the lyrics book that comes with it, strap on your headphones, and enjoy the ride.

It's one of those albums that will remind of you of this summer, years into the future.
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Format: Audio CD
Sage Francis is another one of those rappers that mainstream heads probably have never heard of because he doesn't rap about his bling or how many women he bangs. Because of that, however, it might be easy for underground heads to automatically call his albums instant classics. Fortunately, his latest album Human the Death Dance actually IS close to being one.

After the mini-intro comes "Underground for Dummies", where Sage assesses how his race could be a double-edged sword in the hip-hop community. Now, that kind of subject matter usually seems passé, but he gives it an interesting twist. And from there you'll find notables like "Clickety Clack" (no, it's not about guns), "Waterline", the introspective "Hoofprints in the Sand", and my favorite, "Keep Moving". And "Going Back to Rehab" is an interesting story, although "that's one hell of a God" is a very bad choice of words.

Sage is also good when it comes to freestyling (albeit with music in the background), as evidenced by "High Step". And songstress Jolie Holland helps him out on another pair of winners, "Black Out on White Night" and "Got Up This Morning". This album might be called Human the Death Dance, but what it'll REALLY do is bring you to life. Cop it.

Anthony Rupert
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