Sage Francis

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Sage Francis
Sage Francis in 2007
Francis in 2007
Background information
Birth namePaul William Francis
Also known asPaul Francis
Xaul Zan
Born (1976-11-18) November 18, 1976 (age 44)
Miami, Florida U.S.
OriginProvidence, Rhode Island U.S.
GenresHip hop
Years active1996–present
LabelsStrange Famous Records, Anticon, Epitaph Records, ANTI-, Rhymesayers Entertainment
Associated acts
WebsiteSage Francis
at Strange Famous Records
Sage Francis performing at the 2013 Treefort Music Fest

Paul William "Sage" Francis (born November 18, 1976) is an American independent underground rapper from Providence, Rhode Island.[1][2] He is the founder and CEO of Strange Famous Records.[3]

Early life and education[edit]

Francis was born in Miami, Florida, but grew up in Providence, Rhode Island. He is an only child and grew up for most of his childhood with his mother and step father after his parents divorced when he was young. He lived in different parts of Rhode Island including North Smithfield and Woonsocket, Rhode Island. His mom worked as a bartender and his stepfather worked as a locksmith.[1]

Francis began writing and recording original lyrics at age 8, being inspired by acts such as Run DMC and Public Enemy.[4][5] According to Artistdirect, Francis began sneaking out of his parents' house at age 12 to participate in rap battles.[6]

Francis received a degree in communications from Dean College in Franklin, Massachusetts and a degree in journalism from the University of Rhode Island.[7]


In 1996, he recorded his first official demo tape, and by 1998 he had a radio show on WRIU called True School Session.

Francis won the Superbowl MC Battle in Boston in 1999, beating Esoteric.[8][9] Francis won the Scribble Jam emcee battle in 2000, beating Blueprint.[4][7][10][11]

In 2001, the song "Makeshift Patriot," recorded on October 11, 2001, became an Internet hit for its critique of American media during, and immediately following a month after the September 11 attacks.[12] Francis considers Makeshift Patriot to be the song that really made things come together for him. It was on the 2002 mix tape, The Known UnsoldierSick Of Waging War... and was widely circulated for free.[13]

He released the critically acclaimed first solo album Personal Journals in 2002. The record, Hope, his only album with Joe Beats released under the name Non-Prophets, was named after the state of Rhode Island's motto or slogan of hope, so was meant to be very Rhode Island-centric.[13]

Francis broke music genre barriers by getting signed to Epitaph Records, making himself the first hip hop artist to sign with the punk rock label. He subsequently released three albums with Epitaph Records; A Healthy Distrust, Human the Death Dance and Life.[14][15]

Francis has described A Healthy Distrust as being a political record, which reflected his mistrust of government and big business with a focus on socio-political matters.[13]

In May 2007, a video of "Got Up This Morning" off of Human the Death Dance was released. It featured vocals by Jolie Holland and beats produced by Buck 65. Cameos in the video were B. Dolan, Brother Ali, Buck 65, Divinci from Solillaquists of Sound, Holland, Slug, and Tom Inhaler from Francis' band and Strange Famous Records[16]

Life was a career shift into a different style direction, focusing on spoken word and indie rock.[17] The record featured contributions and collaborations with Califone, Chris Walla, Jason Lytle, and Mark Linkous.[4]

Francis made a guest appearance on Bad Religion's The Empire Strikes First on the track "Let Them Eat War".

In 2014, Francis released Copper Gone after a four year break from touring.[18][19] The album was named after the phenomenon Francis saw in his neighborhood where abandoned buildings would have their copper pipes stripped to be sold, and then tagged as "Copper Gone" to let others know that there was no copper left to steal.[13]

Francis says that he has been releasing mixed tapes consistently since 1999, and will continue to release the Sick of mixed tapes series on an ongoing basis.[13]

Francis had toured extensively.[20] He has performed shows with Atmosphere, Brother Ali, and Eyedea & Abilities.

Epic Beard Men[edit]

Francis has collaborated with B. Dolan on a duo for Season 1, an EP released in 2018 under the name Epic Beard Men. The full-length follow-up album is scheduled to be released in March 2019.".[21][22]

Strange Famous Records[edit]

Francis is the founder and CEO of the independent hip hop record label Strange Famous Records. The label first began in 1996 as a way for him to release his previously unreleased songs in the late 1990s. It has since evolved into an official enterprise with an expanding roster of like-minded artists. He released several Sick Of mixtapes available on his website.[12]

Social activism[edit]

Francis worked with fellow rapper B. Dolan who had the idea to start an organization and website named aka KnowMore: The People's Corporation Watch Project which focused on connecting consumers with social responsibility information about corporations and responsible consumerism.[4]

Francis went to South Africa to work on solutions to AIDS in South Africa, especially in regards to children. As part of that effort he was part of a documentary on HIV in South Africa.[23]

Other work[edit]

Francis is also part of the contemporary spoken word movement. His relationship with the Providence poetry slam community (he was on their 1998, 1999 and 2002 national poetry slam teams)[24] led to it being called "The House that Sage Francis Built."[25] From 2000 to 2002, he also DJ-ed for the NYC-Urbana poetry slam, a weekly slam series held at the legendary punk rock venue CBGB.[25]


Studio albums[edit]

Sick of mixtapes[edit]

Live albums[edit]



  • 2013: Painkiller Already
  • 2015: The Wandering Wolf


  1. ^ a b Thomas-Glass, Dan (2002). "Dusted Features: Sage Francis is to Dusted Magazine as ________ is to _________". Dusted Magazine. Archived from the original on 2015-03-22. Retrieved 2018-02-18.
  2. ^ Ma, David (December 2005). "Sage Francis". SLAP Magazine. Archived from the original on 27 September 2007.
  3. ^ Khanna, Vish (7 June 2010). "Sage Francis". Exclaim!. Archived from the original on 3 April 2018. Retrieved 18 February 2018.
  4. ^ a b c d Clendening, Cory (10 September 2010). "An Exclusive Interview With Sage Francis". Archived from the original on 13 September 2010.
  5. ^ Francis, Sage (31 July 2014). "Sage Francis Interview" (Video interview). TheBeeShine.
  6. ^ "Sage Francis Biography". Artistdirect. Archived from the original on 19 February 2018. Retrieved 18 February 2018.
  7. ^ a b Naughty Mickie (2005). "Sage Francis works harder than most". DaBelly. Archived from the original on 2016-09-21. Retrieved 2016-05-18.
  8. ^ Akrobatik; Francis, Sage (1999). "Sage Francis vs. Akrobatik" (Video). Superbowl MC Battle.
  9. ^ Esoteric; Francis, Sage (1999). "Esoteric vs. Sage Francis" (Video). Superbowl MC Battle. Archived from the original on 2019-05-16. Retrieved 2018-02-18.
  10. ^ Brother Ali; Francis, Sage (2000). "Sage Francis vs. Brother Ali" (Video). Scribble Jam.
  11. ^ Francis, Sage; Blueprint (2000). "Sage Francis vs. Brother Ali" (Video). Scribble Jam. Archived from the original on 2012-07-05. Retrieved 2018-02-18.
  12. ^ a b Martin, Abby; Francis, Sage (11 July 2014). "Sage Francis Breaks the Stage on 9/11 Fear Mongering, Corporate Hip Hop & Performs 'Vonnegut Busy'" (Video interview). Breaking the Set. Archived from the original on 8 September 2018. Retrieved 18 February 2018.
  13. ^ a b c d e f Francis, Sage; Scroobius Pip (14 March 2015). "Sage Francis and Scroobius Pip Copper Gone Interview" (Video interview). HHKMusic.
  14. ^ Braidwood, Stefan (16 February 2005). "Sage Francis: A Healthy Distrust". PopMatters. Archived from the original on 10 July 2018. Retrieved 18 February 2018.
  15. ^ Schiller, Mike (9 May 2007). "Sage Francis: Human the Death Dance". PopMatters. Archived from the original on 29 January 2018. Retrieved 18 February 2018.
  16. ^ "Sage Francis - Making of "Got Up This Morning"" (Video). Epitaph Records. 23 May 2007.
  17. ^ Fiander, Matthew (27 May 2010). "Sage Francis: Li(f)e". PopMatters. Archived from the original on 5 February 2018. Retrieved 18 February 2018.
  18. ^ Finley, Adam (6 June 2014). "Sage Francis: Copper Gone". PopMatters. Archived from the original on 6 February 2018. Retrieved 18 February 2018.
  19. ^ Van Siclen, Bill (12 March 2015). "Providence Rapper Sage Francis brings his show to The Met". The Providence Journal. Archived from the original on 18 February 2018. Retrieved 18 February 2018.
  20. ^ Francis, Sage (13 June 2016). "Sage Francis - Artist Interview" (Video interview). TheFilmGuys Productions.
  21. ^ Courtney, James (April 25, 2018). "Rhode Island Rappers Join Forces as Epic Beard Men, Playing Paper Tiger". San Antonio Current. Archived from the original on May 13, 2018. Retrieved May 12, 2018.
  22. ^ @SageFrancis (21 July 2018). "The @EpicBeardMen album will be released in March 2019. We're not quite sure what to call it yet. Might be self-titled. #EBM" (Tweet) – via Twitter.
  23. ^ Hakes, Tyler (2011). "Sage Francis Travels to South Africa for HIV Documentary". aboveGround Magazine. Archived from the original on 2018-02-18. Retrieved 2018-02-18.
  24. ^ " Providence Poetry Slam". Archived from the original on 4 August 2005.
  25. ^ a b Aptowicz, Cristin O'Keefe (2008). Words in Your Face: A Guided Tour Through Twenty Years of the New York City Poetry Slam. New York: Soft Skull. pp. 100–101, 198. ISBN 978-1-933-36882-5. OCLC 165956969.
  26. ^ Nardwuar; Francis, Sage (18 August 2010). "Nardwuar vs. Sage Francis" (Video interview). Nardwuar the Human Serviette. Archived from the original on 11 October 2019. Retrieved 18 February 2018.

External links[edit]