Sage Francis
Personal Journals



by Richard Craig USER (120 Reviews)
December 9th, 2008 | 15 replies

Release Date: 2002 | Tracklist

Paul 'Sage' Francis is a hip-hop artist from Providence, Rhode Island. He is white. This last fact shouldn't alter your perceptions of him in any way (nor should it if he were black); but in a genre commercially dominated by the likes of Kanye West and Jay-Z, accomplished white rappers are almost something of a novelty. Even more of a 'novelty' for the hip-hop genre is the fact that he is a vegetarian who doesn't drink, doesn't do drugs and doesn't think of himself as "straight-edge". This is not because he is confused about the definition of that term, but because he believes that "you should not define yourself by what you don't do." What Sage Francis "does" do is rap - very, very well. That is what he can be defined by.

Intellectually superior to his contemporaries in hip-hop, he is known for his thought provoking lyrics and intensity. Each and every track on his 'Personal Journals' album is delivered with an intense flow and near-confrontational style. It is Sage's fierce delivery that has seen him embraced by the punk community, signed to Epitaph, and have 'Makeshift Patriot' make an appearance on Punk-o-Rama Vol. 9. His intellectual, thought provoking lyricism stems from his spoken word work, as well as years of competing in rap battles. 'Hopeless', is recorded live at a battle and displays incredible raw emotion. The aforementioned track sees Sage building until he violently spits "I'm not emotionless, in fact I broke my wrist/ when I wrote the list of all those I miss." Elsewhere, on 'Personal Journalist' Francis poetically in the 3rd person about himself as a peace-prophet over a sorrowful bass-line with violin accompaniment. However, there is a very sinister tone to the track as he claims "when he comes back from hell again/you'll have a few bones to pick with a fractured skeleton."

While Francis tends to stay clear of the narcissistic self-promotion that plagues mainstream hip-hop, at times he does stray into this area - however, he does this so conscientiously that it comes across as introspection, rather than arrogance. The best example of this is on 'Different', a track featuring a walking double-bass-line with autobiographical such as "I'm a real vegetarian: no chicken...not even fish/ I'm a real underground rapper/ my tape quality sucks, my records are warped and my CD skips". The track can be split into two halves, as the first minute or so features Francis adopting a free-rhythm vocal style, while in the second half he switches to rapping, while still maintaining that spoken-word style. 'My Name Is Strange' sees Francis adopt a more commercial structure with choruses as well as, more importantly, embracing a blues-style with pan-pipes. It changes the pace of the album dramatically, unexpectedly, and most importantly, very well. Of course, Sage Francis is at his best when he sticks to his rapping style consisting of lyrics based around pop-culture references, vivid imagery and the occasional pun, all delivered with a fierce intensity. His unique style makes tracks like 'Crack Pipes and 'Message Sent' among the best on the album.

A lot of people (this reviewer included) tend to neglect hip-hop because of the thoughtless and artless nature of some of the artists that radio and TV tend to force down our throats. However, as Sage Francis' 'Personal Journals' shows, there are rappers out there with conscientious lyrics, intellectually beyond doing drive-bys and being pimps. At the end of 'Personal Journalist', the collection's title track, if you will, you can faintly hear Francis shout "by the end of this album, I want you to know who Sage Francis is…" Well, mission accomplished, quite frankly. Sage Francis is one of the best rappers out there today. His uniquely intense style, which gives him appeal beyond hip-hop fans, is brilliant, and makes 'Personal Journals' well worth checking out.

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Comments:Add a Comment 
December 9th 2008


Very good review, voted.

Can anyone tell me if this is similar to Aesop Rock?

December 9th 2008


niice review. though imo sage francis is the worst rapper ive ever heard who has any reputation.his flow reaaaally sucks, this hiphop is unlisteneable as hiphop, and his lyrics arent good either.ive never heard this album, but i have heard songs from this album, n i didnt like them.
there are many other white rappers out there who are better than sage francis. and many other anycolour rappers out there who are have better hiphop than he does, with more intelligent lyricism.

Staff Reviewer
December 9th 2008


Can anyone tell me if this is similar to Aesop Rock?

Well, if you like Aesop Rock, chances are you'll like Sage.

December 9th 2008


Album Rating: 2.5

this guy needs to stick to spoken word. your review is fine, but i think you need to listen to more hiphop.

i disagree jom, aesop actually can rap.

December 10th 2008


i need to look into this.

December 10th 2008


yea i agree with kingsoby, aesop is far better than sage francis.

December 10th 2008


kingsoby, i don't listen to a lot of hip-hop actually.
pretty much sage, beasties, public enemy and whatevers on the radio.
'cos i dont listen to much hip-hop i found this review pretty hard to do tbh, but i thought id give it a go

August 29th 2009


Album Rating: 5.0

Inherited Scars.... lyrically amazing his vocal presentation amazing. hip hop like this leaves me %100 torn with the garbage we see in the media. Sage has is a astounding poet & talented rapper, it's seldom i say that because almost anyone can rhyme to a beat but him & aesop have taken it to a new level.

September 11th 2011


Album Rating: 4.5

So, does anybody else think this is totally the shit?

September 22nd 2011


Album Rating: 2.5

Not really, but first listen says it's pretty good.

September 23rd 2011


Album Rating: 3.5

Yup. This album is pretty good though. The rest are mediocre-bisque.

September 23rd 2011


Album Rating: 3.5

Hahahaha. Dude you started it. Nobody to blame but yourself

November 27th 2012


Album Rating: 4.5

It's a pity Sage has never been able to equal this. Healthy Distrust was great but not as great as this, and the rest are all kind of mediocre.

November 14th 2013


Album Rating: 5.0

One of my absolute favourite albums.

March 17th 2014


"Intellectually superior to his contemporaries in hip-hop"
"vegetarian who doesn't drink, doesn't do drugs"

So basically he's the second coming of KRS One, shit count me in!

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