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Sage Francis

Non Prophet

by Samora Chapman / 31.08.2010

I met one of my heroes the other day. His name is Sage Francis, a slam poet and emcee hailing from Rhode Island, USA. He is the anti-thesis of the 50 Cent candy rapper generation and is one of the few people making hip-hop today that is truly taking the music to new frontiers as well as remaining true to the old school heroes like Public Enemy and KRS One. He has gathered a worldwide cult following as is often the case with slightly obscure, so called ‘underground artists’.

There comes a time when you meet your leader, your hero, your messiah. For some it is accompanied by angel-song or hell-fire, for others it happens in a dark basement in London, on a Tuesday night in August. In this case my hero came in the form of a slightly overweight and nervous old man, wearing a wig and a pair of black-rimmed spectacles. His white skin was glistening like a reptile in a rain forest.
Much to my disappointment, the messiah would not meet my gaze. I suppose he felt somewhat naked because of the way all the strangers in the room stared hungrily at him. He was sitting at a small metal table with his CDs and vinyl laid out like he was working at a garage sale. But how could this be? Sage Francis seemed so fucking normal. In fact he seemed less then normal. He looked like a man crawling in his own skin.

I watched as Sage sold a CD to an excited girl and her boyfriend. He looked like a middle-aged man going about his day job in a dutiful and awkward manner. He wiped the sweat off his forehead and dug in his pockets for change. He didn’t have a cash box and was struggling with the foreign currency. He dug in his pockets and produced a stick of chewing gum, some American dollars and a black marker pen. He didn’t have the right change, so he looked around and caught my stare. ‘Hey man, have you got two tens?’

Sage Francis

So I met my hero, and he asked me for change. I stood flabbergasted for a few moments then wrestled my wallet out of my pocket. I had two tens, the ice was broken. We chatted a bit and then fell into a terribly awkward silence like complete strangers, which we were of course. The music was too loud and small talk seemed pointless. So I bought his CD because I didn’t know what else to do with myself. He signed it dutifully. And that was that.

The show itself was epic. Once on stage the mediocre man transformed into a rap god. He performed the song ‘Narcissist’ which drove the true fans into a tingling frenzy because it’s one of those obscure tracks that only the real cult followers would know. He then hung himself with the microphone chord, shook off his wig and spectacles and broke into full flight. He became wild-eyed and aggressive as he performed like a man possessed; a ringleader in a room full of enslaved devotees.

The crowd was mostly comprised of young men swooning. One guy with long greasy hair was rapping along to every word with his eyes shut and his arms outstretched, reaching skyward in despair or adulation. Occasionally, Sage got tangled up in the groping arms of his fans like something out of a zombie film and he’d be forced to bash the delirious devil worshippers back into the pit.

So who is Sage Francis? The self-loathing salesman, or the swaggering gangster rapper? The man I met in the back of the club could have been nothing more than a character conjured by the self-proclaimed ‘non-prophet’. I reckon old Moses had a point when he warned the masses; ‘Do not worship false idols’.

* Images © Samora Chapman.

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  1. Max says:

    fantastic first three paragraphs. real Wolfe stuff. paint the hero in human colours. dig it.
    only found the skin glistening like a lizards in the rain forest analogy a bit stretched. 🙂
    good stuffs

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  2. tamara says:

    im so glad sage francis was highlighted

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  3. Anonymous says:

    the writer of this article, and other sage fans, might be excited to know we’re trying to finalise bis SA tour. Aiming for Feb.
    Chat to Sage frequently. He’s a nice guy.

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  4. Luckmmin says:

    “Shooting all the midgets and I’m shooting all the midgets,
    shooting all the giants and i’m shooting all the giants”

    Aweh Joegles!

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  5. Sage Francis says:

    This was a very amusing read. Thank you for taking the time to do that. Spot on in a lot of ways.
    The old sweaty nervous reptile man

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  6. Samora Joegz Chapman says:

    Hello Mr Sage! I see your back in London soon. I would love to buy you a cup of herb tea and discuss the meaning of LI(F)E if you have the time.


    Your Biggest Fan.

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  7. Andy says:

    Make it happen Joegs! Y’all can read that interview here, if and when it goes down.

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  8. Tim says:

    I want to know who this writer thinks she is… I mean I hate it when people go on about this ‘underground’ or commercial shit. people who have to point that shit out are posers. music speaks for itself, if the tunes good you should listen. It’s that people like Samora wear their love for one facet of hip hop like its something to be proud of. I’ve got one thing to say – Single track minded! What… was your boyfriend once into Aes Rock and since then you claim… Its cool, there are many hoes (you can see what school of hip hop I’m from) who do that.

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  9. States The Obvious says:

    From the school of hip hop that can’t determine gender?

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  10. Fyre Lansky says:

    Strong assumption Tim.

    Interesting article. Good stuff.

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  11. react says:

    shot joogs!!

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  12. The HAm says:

    Sage rocks any stage , a Mage in a rage , freestyle or written page !

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  13. Tim says:

    If Samora is a guy then he writes like a chick … sorry. Has anyone lifted his/her leg to check? He is a WOMAN!

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  14. Andy says:

    Well done Tim you’ve just officially defined yourself as a douche… we’re watching you

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  15. Luckmin says:

    Ouch Tim, that was just embarrassing.
    I’m surprised you even managed to read the whole thing. All those big words…

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  16. Tim says:

    HAhahaha @Andy and Luckmin. Guys, there’s nothing wrong with a little back and forth when it comes to hip hop. Andy I’m sure you remember the Biggie/Pac debacle? Anyway figure it out – whether people beef or constructively criticise you get more hits… no complaints all of a sudden. This site constantly analyses how people have changed and who we are as a people etc. So I put it to you – Do you really think everyone is cheery, that when they read this article they will just agree or comment because they think it makes them cool? No, sorry there is light and dark Andy. I’m sure I’ve heard you say it’s the hater generation? You got the term hater from hip hop culture, do you think we all died? Lol.

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  17. Anonymous says:

    Ya Moses was right ne.

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