Earlier this month Providence’s hometown hip-hop hero, Sage Francis, lovingly referred to as “Uncle Sage,” released Copper Gone. The much anticipated album marks the end of a four-year hiatus and his first studio album under his own indie label, Strange Famous Records.
Copper Gone is a 14-track trip into the psyche of Sage, merging his eminent quick-tongued sharp lyrical flair and what may be his darkest autobiographical poetic styling yet. He masterfully uses twisted imagery as commentary on his personal state of affairs along with the absurdity of today’s popular culture (“Knit me a sweater with the intestines of attention whores,” he raps in “MAINT REQD”).
“It’s mainly in reference to houses that get stripped for their scrap metal,” Sage explained of the album’s title. “There was an abandoned building near where I live that had ‘Copper Gone’ spray painted onto it in an attempt to keep people from breaking into it. It was basically a plea to the people. Like, ‘Hey … there’s nothing left. I’ve been stripped clean. Stop fucking with me now.'”
The album explodes out of the gate 15 seconds into the first track, “Pressure Cooker,” with an abruptly shouted, “I been busy, get off my nuts,” as if to say, “Yeah, I’ve been on hiatus. What’s it to you?” setting the pace for the level of energy that holds strong through the entirety of Copper Gone. “I definitely felt the pressure to have an album that socked people over the head. And in the bread basket. And in the bean bag,” Sage explained of creating his first full-length album since 2010’s LI(F)E.
The power that Copper Gone demonstrates commands the listener’s attention through mellower lulls in the track list as well with captivating lyricism and well developed, easy riding beats. Sage’s infamy as a wordsmith comes to fruition with his visual storytelling. He depicts a love gone far downhill in “Grace,” rapping in the outro,“This a music box that haunts me from the top-shelf of the bedroom closet I don’t touch it, it just cuddles with my conscience I’m on constant guard, jittery the whole night
Clinging the sheets because it sings to me slow like
And that’s her song running through an hourglass…”
Sage’s lyrics flow easily over by a diverse mix of beats from a number of producers in addition to affiliates Buck 65, Alias, Ceciel Otter and Reanimator. “A French producer by the name of Le Parasite put together [the “Over Under”] beat,” Sage explained, “It was actually submitted as part of a remix contest we held on our website a few years back. I liked the beat so much I asked him if I could keep it on reserve for an original song. The beat for ‘Say Uncle’ also came about in a similar way. In fact, now that I think of it, a lot of the producers on this record got in touch with me from the remix contests we held at Strange Famous. Crazy how that all worked out.”
Indie record Copper Gone has seen an overwhelming amount of support in its first month in circulation. Mid-June the album reached number 135 on Billboard’s Top 200 list of current albums and number 23 on the list of current hip-hop. Sage is currently on the final leg of his US tour, ending the journey at home in Providence.
He’ll be tearing down the house at Fete with Strange Famous artist and RI local, B. Dolan on July 4. What can fans expect at this homecoming? “Pure fucking insanity. We’re leaving it all out on the stage that night. If people leave that show feeling like it wasn’t the best show they’ve seen in recent years I’d be surprised. This will be one for the books. No doubt. Medical ones especially,” Sage assures us.
Copper Gone is available for purchase on strangefamous.com on vinyl, CD, digital download and yes, cassette tape.Sage Francis with B Dolan July 4, 7pm Fete Ballroom, 103 Dike St, Providence