Release Date: Jun 3, 2014
Record label: Strange Famous Records
Genre(s): Rap, Pop/Rock
Sage Francis is back with a vengeance on sixth outing Copper Gone. A four-year sabbatical had Francis dropping retirement hints after 2010's punk-inflected stylistic departure Li(f)e, and Copper Gone is devoid of the indie-rock backdrop of that effort which caused some friction among his fan base. Longtime Sage devotees will no doubt be ecstatic with opener "Pressure Cooker," as the Providence, Rhode Island-based emcee seethes with righteous indignation, sounding almost unhinged as he declares "if anger is a gift, I'm very gifted, and if ignorance is bliss I'm a sadomasochist" over hard-as-nails Cecil Otter production.It's that sense of fury and Francis's trademark soul-baring honesty that drives the album's best cuts.
Exorcising his demons with grinding guitars, uncontrolled beats, and a wicked late-'80s, early-'90s reference ("They were standing on the shoulders of a giant, so defiant, but their feet are stuck/Jesus Jones!"), indie rapper Sage Francis frees himself during the frantic, rock-hard "Pressure Cooker," the opening number on Copper Gone, an album that follows his indie-rocking effort Li(f)e and then four years off. Well, not really "off" as Sage declares "I've been busy!" at the start of the album, referring to time spent volunteering with HIV-Positive orphans in Africa and shoring up his home life. The LL Cool J-loving lyric "Mama said 'Knock down the house, start over!'" gives up half the album's theme, while the key cut, "Vonnegut Busy," offers the other half with "When you're going through hell, keep going," and if the music is the claustrophobic boom-bap of yesterday meeting a vocal delivery that's as bark-like and Twista-esque as ever, all the insight and layered ideas point to an older, wiser Sage now living up to his "given" name.
Head here to submit your own review of this album. Defiantly, obstinately, vociferously independent, Sage Francis has operated in the rundown borderlands of rap since his endlessly re-issued Sick of Waiting Tables spawned an unlikely underground icon. Add to that list of adverbs a bunch of adjectives: political, iconoclastic, battle-hardened, and you've got a study of an operator quite apart from the fashionista millionaires club which rules the hip-hop roost.
A four-year hiatus has the potential to be a death knell to just about any Hip Hop artist’s career. But if the career of Providence, Rhode Island emcee and Strange Famous Records founder Sage Francis has taught us anything, it’s to never count out the underdog and to believe in the consistency of an artist dedicated to challenging himself and his audience through his craft. Sage’s sabbatical has officially ended with Copper Gone, a seething, confession-ridden, honest body of work that his most dedicated fans have been pining for since he temporarily stepped away in 2010.
Sage Francis has always made intense music. Whether rapping political (2001’s “Makeshift Patriot”) or personal (2005’s “Escape Artist”), the former spoken-word champion with the acid tongue seems to treat intensity as an end in and of itself. His newest, Copper Gone, deals with a failed relationship and personal breakdown culminating in a stint as a recluse in the woods of Rhode Island.