Review Summary: The fun, less serious side of Sage Francis
is a good companion to Personal Journals
because it shows what existed even before I branched off into the non-traditional styles of hip-hop. It is an answer to all the critics who thought Sage Francis didn't have the basics down, and it was a great way to display some fundamental skill while expanding upon them. Sometimes it's necessary to backpedal a bit and reconnect with your roots.” ---Sage Francis
At the time when Hope
was released, Sage Francis had only released one proper album, Personal Journals,
and a series of mixtapes. His debut album was highly personal (as the name implies) and his style was mostly dismissed as “emo-rap”. For Hope,
Sage Francis joins forces with producer Joe Beats and shows a very different side that would not really fit under his own name thus it was appropriate that they name this collaboration something else: Non-Prophets.
Sage Francis pays homage to the hip-hop that he and Joe Beats grew up on and that got them involved with the genre, it’s a tribute to the golden age of hip-hop and an indictment on the state of it circa 2003. On ‘Mainstream 307’, he shows what may have been his motivation for this album: “I don’t wanna be famous like the artists on your playlist, the more emotion I put into it the harder they diss”
then goes on to say “While I’m busting dope lines I misquoted and you might think I wrote it”.
Sage goes on to (mis)quote rappers like O.C., Ice-T, The Beastie Boys, Dr. Octagon and Rakim adding his own twist to the lyrics of these old school rappers. Producer Joe Beats joins Sage in this homage to hip-hop’s golden era by using vocal samples from Mobb Deep, Big Daddy Kane and Black Sheep. Sage is clearly just having fun on this album yet his more conscious side makes appearances here and there as on ‘That Ain’t Right’ with the line “I attended candlelight vigils for Matthew Sheppard while you put out another “fuck you, faggot” record.”
‘The Cure’ is the most Sage-like song over Joe Beats’ melancholic horns and the hook: “When a boy writes off the world it’s done with sloppy misspelled words, If a girl writes off the world it’s done in cursive.”
‘The Cure’ is a very heartfelt song that would not have been out of place on Personal Journals.
The flow of Hope
is seamless, having only one producer gives the album great cohesiveness. In this day and age, it is extremely rare to have a hip hop album with only one producer and it’s even more rare to have an album with only one MC also but Sage proves that he doesn’t need any guest spots to help him out as he is excellent on the mic and has plenty to say.
shows that Sage shows is extremely well versed in old school hip-hop and the listener needs to have a similarly thorough knowledge of hip-hop in order to be able to catch some of the obscure references he makes. Although an encyclopedic knowledge of hip-hop may be required to pick out the (mis)quoted lines on Hope,
it certainly isn’t a requirement for enjoying the album because that will happen regardless of the amount of references you can decipher. On Hope,
Joe Beats and Sage Francis take hip-hop back to it’s essence when it was all about just having fun, you can tell they had fun with this album and you will have fun listening to it.
Xaul Zan's Heart