Channel Zero

On his tour, Sage Francis flips Clear Channel the bird.

His vitriol spills over to "Mainstream 307," a cut that samples Big L and takes on the sheep mentality of the masses: "I hope you burn to death with the trends that are hot this summer," he raps. "I'll wipe the floor with your psyche some more and fight the war with Michael Moore in a Nike store, battling the general consensus of shit."

In a similar vein, "That Ain't Right" blasts backpackers and materialistic rappers equally in an aggressive rant that clowns the fools who coined the phrase "emo-rap" to describe his work. And for those who constantly complain about the state of hip-hop, he offers this: "African medallions didn't sell platinum albums, that's part of the reason you think hip-hop died/It was here before you were; it'll be here in the future/Life's not a bitch, she's just sick of being personified."

Such opinionated dialogue is what Sage Francis is all about. Probably the most vehement and positive responses the rapper has received came after the release of his song "Makeshift Patriot," which he initially released as a free Internet download in the wake of 9/11. The song analyzes the events leading up to the day and its aftermath while providing a trenchant critique on the patriotism that followed. One can only imagine how John Ashcroft might react to the song's closing lines: "Don't waive your rights with your flags."

Non-prophecy: Sage Francis has a way with words.
Non-prophecy: Sage Francis has a way with words.

Details

With Joe Beats, Grand Buffet and Mac Lethal, 8:30 p.m. Friday, March 5, Boulder Theater, 2032 14th Street, $18.50, 303-786-7030; 8 p.m. Saturday, March 6, Aggie Theatre, 204 South College Avenue, Fort Collins, $13, 970-482-8300

"That song won me a slew of new fans and insane amounts of press. I never would have expected that when I first recorded it," says Francis. "There were some negative reactions from servicemen, but in all actuality, most of them admitted a lot of horrible things about the military to me."

One thing that sets Francis apart from other rappers is his willingness to engage his fans and detractors in dialogue -- whether it be in person, after shows or online. And even though he may not have as demographically a diverse fan base as Eminem -- a fact shared by many "underground" rappers -- this self-described "unapologetic white boy" packs a mean lyrical punch that could hold its own with the Detroit superstar and resonates with audiences. There is as much Kool G. Rap to his game as there is anticon. And by signing with lauded punk imprint Epitaph, Francis could enjoy some of the same crossover success his labelmate Atmosphere has experienced.

"I am currently working on my solo album; I can't let the cat out of the bag just yet," says Francis. "But many people have big expectations, and I take the attention they are giving my project very seriously."

"Another goal is getting this dipshit out of the White House," he adds. "There's lots of stuff in the works, but talking on shit before it manifests doesn't do any good."

Unless, of course, you're talking about Clear Channel.

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