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Sage Francis
Healthy Distrust
by: Sun-J

Often coined the more intelligent Eminem, Sage Francis is not your typical rapper. Mainstream hip hop would consider this man overly verbose, a few metaphors more confusing than Talib Kweli, it seems Sage had just missed the cut; but more importantly, he could care less, "Radio… suckers never play this, scared shitless of dismissing Clear Channel playlists." ("Buzz Kill"). After releasing his debut, Personal Journals on Anticon, Sage eventually took his emo-political, rap manifesto over to the rock juggernaut that is Epitaph records, becoming the first man in hip hop to actually sign with a rock based label. A Brown University alumni, it’s no wonder why Sage is so many years further along on the intelligence spectrum than his peers. Sage Francis' latest release, Healthy Distrust combines elements of love, politics, pop culture, and hip hop essence into a revolution of innocuous songs.

On the opening track, "Buzz Kill" Sage immediately hits us with fire. The ultra synth track hypes up Sage’s entrance even more, and Sage delivers with lyrical ammo, "color me confused when they paint issues black and white, resuscitate gray matter right back to life, its my destiny, she wants me, she beckons, she left me for dead, but dead didn’t want no sloppy seconds…" On the next track "Sea Lion," Sage goes onto deliver several emotional verses over a well produced percussion track. On "Gunz Yo" we find Sage comparing a gunfight to a contest over whose penis is larger, "I've got a water gun, I keep it in my mouth, it keeps me safe from the things I like to speak about, but words are leaking out, and all these smiles that are cracked, are like a dam on the verge of collapse, there ain’t no turning back, in fact, I can’t hold down my fluids, can’t retract statements without water displacement, flooded the basement and sought refuge, removed my waterproof vest then kicked off my wet shoes, made it to dry land, pistol in hand…" It's also not the first time Sage has expressed homophobia on a track, "It might remind you of a mic the way I hold it to the grill of a homophobic rapper, Unaware of the graphic nature of phallic symbols, Tragically ironic, sucking off each others gats and pistols." But then again, Sage Francis is a sarcastic, and contradictory mind that pushes pop-mainstream matter to political limits. "Dance Monkey" features a pitch corrected Sage Francis that croons at an Alvin-the-chipmunk like tone, "Dance monkey, dance you goddamn monkey, do I make you want to laugh?, I make you wanna move, I make you wanna rock." The song seems to be an attempt to mimic mainstream sound, which is contradictory, but as stated above, this is not atypical of Sage. The chorus of “Dance Monkey” is obviously one of the weakest ever, including any songs on the "Sick…" mixtapes. "Sun vs. Moon" seems like a track for shock value more than representations of belief, “God’s not a woman, he’s a big white guy in the sky, and the deserts are reflections of his eyes, he doesn’t cry for us, but when he does, it’s cuz he’s drunk, and he’s always f***** up…God's not a woman, he's a bitch," while "Slow Down Gandhi" is the most politically proactive song by Sage to date. Among the issues the track covers are the outcomes of the recent election, "It's the same who complain about the global war, but can’t overthrow the local joker that they voted for," as well as socioeconomic issues, "If they could sell sanity in a bottle they'd be charging for compressed air, they're marketing health care, they demonized welfare, middle class eliminated, the rich get richer till the poor get educated."

Healthy Distrust is an obvious, yet slight lyrical decline from Personal Issues, however Sage's witty humor and clever worldplay can still be found sprinkled all over the album with metaphors such as "…I'm still looking for my break, and an autograph for my cast…" The main development of Sage on this album is that he has seemed to master his breath control. On Personal Journals it seemed at times as if Sage was packing to much into his bars, whereas on Healthy Distrust Sage seems to have slowed down, and spread out his thoughts more. Sage Francis is a deep artist with much to say, so if you pick up this album, I suggest listening for the lyrics initially, before trying to catch the melody.


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