Paul William "Sage" Francis lives up to his knowledgeable nickname with his personally and socially brutal and honest rap. His songs and lyricism are aware of his surroundings, and are cut and dried on issues like abuse, personal insecurity, social injustice and empowerment. Striking a balance of content and composure, the sometimes-heavy content of his music doesn't keep it from being keenly listenable and intriguing. Returning to full-time music in 2014 following a hiatus after his 2010 album Li(f)e, when Copper Gone was released last summer, it proved the heavyweight wordsmith still had it, and had matured, his prosaic writing only improving with time. The Source caught up with Mr. Francis about his record label, his writing and his cat.
Source Weekly: What are you up to right now?
Sage Francis: Well, I just got home from a meeting I had at Strange Famous Records. I was gone for most of last year so we had a lot of catching up to do, especially since I leave for a bunch of more shows in just a few days. At this very moment I am plopped down on the couch and making my way through emails while my cat snores.
SW: What does an independent label like Strange Famous mean in the age of the internet, in which nearly all hip-hop is independent?
SF: Everyone is independent on some level. I hope. I don't know what the future of labels are, but at the very least they can act as in-house promotional entities while being able to invest in projects along with career development. All while exposing artists to a built-in fan base. Labels act as a brand of sorts.
SW: Tell me about the first time you realized you had a gift for spoken word and lyric writing?
SF: I started writing when I was eight, but I knew it wasn't anything all that great. A few years later I started feeling more confident and excited about what I was writing. When I found my own lyrics echoing in my head instead of the lyrics of other rappers, I feel I hit a new level. It's always exciting to unlock new achievements.
SW: Do you consider your writing therapeutic?
SF: Music is probably therapeutic. And writing is therapeutic. I don't know to what degree though. It doesn't fix anything on its own. It assists somehow when channeled properly.
SW: Talk to me about the "Sick Of" mix tapes and how they are different from your full albums? Who are those recordings for?
SF: My mixtapes mainly consist of recordings that have no official album to call home. That could be due to a number of issues including (but not limited to) sample concerns, recording quality, expiration dates, subject matter, or a style mismatch. I put together my albums with a lot of these things in mind, but the mixtapes have less restrictions.
SW: I see that you changed the show date in Bend because of the Super Bowl? What would you say/perform if you had the mic at halftime? Who are you rooting for, or do you care?
SF: As a New Englander who is performing in the Northwest during the Patriots vs. Seahawks Super Bowl, I'm advised (and contractually obligated) to plead the Fifth.
Sage Francis, Driftwood Insomnia and the Hard Chords 8 pm. Monday, Feb. 2 Domino Room, 51 NW Greenwood Ave. $20