Sage Francis

Ideas with the force of bullets

On A Healthy Distrust, rapper Sage Francis' solo debut for Epitaph, a predominantly punk label, the New England native teams up with producer Dangermouse (of Grey Albumfame) for "Gunz Yo," the first song to address hip-hop's firearms fixation in academic terms. On it, Francis lambastes "a homophobic rapper/Unaware of the graphic nature of phallic symbols/Tragically ironic/Sucking off each other's gats and pistols." It's hip-hop deconstruction and reconstruction at once. And more insightful than any of this year's punk-rock rants is the new single "Slow Down Gandhi," which targets the suburban culture that dresses down in dreadlocks and perks up with mood-enhancing prescriptions. Through A Healthy Distrust, Francis rhymes long paragraphs in a single breath, eulogizes Johnny Cash, ponders God, muses on magic, and reminds us that rap is about the careful use of words -- which can do more to facilitate revolution than tons o' guns and hours of whining.

 
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