Audio review

Is it okay to steal the title of your friend’s poem and use it for your newest album release?Hip-hop artist Sage Francis’ second major release ‘Human Death Dance’ hits record stores on May 8. The album is titled after a poem by Buddy Wakefield, which is featured on the song Going Back To Rehab.

Francis has actively been involved in the underground hip-hop scene since the 1980s, but didn’t start to break into the mainstream until he won the Scibble Jam battle competition in 2000. Before becoming a full-type MC, Sage Francis obtained two degrees, an associate’s degree in communications from Dean College, and a bachelor’s degree in journalism from the University of Rhode Island.

Francis has self-released a number of albums, all of which are available for free download at his Web site. In 2002, he became one of the few hip-hop artists to sign with a punk label. He signed a three-album deal with Epitaph records, the first of which was ‘A Healthy Distrust.’

Francis is primarily a hip-hop artist, but blends other genres in his music, genres including folk, punk and orchestra music. He is a genius when it comes to songwriting, discussing many concepts like politics, media, relationships and religion as examples.

The new album features a 32-page booklet written by him. In the booklet, he thanks fans for purchasing the album and describes his inspirations or thoughts about particular songs on the album.

My favorite songs on the album include Got Up This Morning, Hoofprints in the Sand, and Good Fashion.

Got Up This Morning is a great song. The soundtrack consists of some folk harmonica and fiddle mixed with a nice head-bobbing beat. For this song, Francis got help from a few old friends. The beat was made by Buck 65, harmonica done by Nathan Harrop and vocals and fiddle by Jolie Holland. All in all, this song is sick.

Hoofprints in the Sand is a song that touches a number of important issues. He talks about social concepts like healthcare, welfare, the poor being exploited by the rich, Christianity and self-worship.

“The people in the top tax bracket just keep looking for freebies, thumbing their noses at those in need of hand outs. I’m talkin’ panhandlers with second-hand clothes living hand to mouth, camping on Capitol Hill,” as an example.

Good Fashion discusses self-confliction. Francis uses sunglasses as a metaphor for the emotional walls we put up to separate ourselves from the world. The major reason this is a favorite of mine is the instrumentals. The music written and performed by Mark Isham is orchestral and has some sick violin parts.

Francis resembles many underground hip-hop artist that are slowly making their way into the mainstream including Immortal Technique, Atmosphere an POS.

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