Sage Francis

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Sage Francis
Sage Francis in 2007
Francis in 2007
Background information
Birth name Paul William Francis
Also known as Paul Francis
Xaul Zan
Born (1976-11-18) November 18, 1976 (age 41)
Miami, Florida U.S.
Origin Providence, Rhode Island U.S.
Genres Hip hop
Occupation(s) Rapper
Years active 1996–present
Labels Strange Famous Records, Anticon, Epitaph Records, ANTI-, Rhymesayers Entertainment
Associated acts
Website Sage 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 circulate 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 Li(f)e.[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]

Li(f)e 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 is working with B. Dolan on a duo for a collaborative album that is scheduled for release in 2018.

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.[21]

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)[22] led to it being called "The House that Sage Francis Built."[23] 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.[23]


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. 
  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!. 
  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. Retrieved 18 February 2018. 
  7. ^ a b Naughty Mickie (2005). "Sage Francis works harder than most". DaBelly. 
  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. 
  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. 
  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. 
  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. 
  15. ^ Schiller, Mike (9 May 2007). "Sage Francis: Human the Death Dance". PopMatters. 
  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. 
  18. ^ Finley, Adam (6 June 2014). "Sage Francis: Copper Gone". PopMatters. 
  19. ^ Van Siclen, Bill (12 March 2015). "Providence Rapper Sage Francis brings his show to The Met". The Providence Journal. 
  20. ^ Francis, Sage (13 June 2016). "Sage Francis - Artist Interview" (Video interview). TheFilmGuys Productions. 
  21. ^ Hakes, Tyler (2011). "Sage Francis Travels to South Africa for HIV Documentary". aboveGround Magazine. 
  22. ^ " Providence Poetry Slam". Archived from the original on 4 August 2005. 
  23. ^ 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. 
  24. ^ Nardwuar; Francis, Sage (18 August 2010). "Nardwuar vs. Sage Francis" (Video interview). Nardwuar the Human Serviette. 

External links[edit]