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Hip Hop Artist Sage Francis Returns to Area with Show in Covington

Tickets have gone on sale for hip hop artist Sage Francis who will preform at Madison Live on July 16. Sage Francis released an album last summer, Copper Gone, which he will showcase on his tour this summer.

“This current tour is an ongoing process. I have 40 shows booked right now but there will probably be at least 20 more by the end of the year,” Francis told The River City News. “I'm just kind of continuing to hit up as many places as possible since the album was released last June. I didn't really intend on touring as much as I am this year, but the opportunities are there so I wanted to not only hit up the main places that have supported me the most, but hit up the more obscure spots that I haven't seen in ten years or so and Kentucky would fall into that category.”

Francis is used to touring. So much so that he has a hard time imagining how his life would be without doing so many shows. Nonetheless, the grind does at times catch up with him.

“It was wearing on me big time up from 2010 and I said I couldn't do it anymore. I thought I might retire from this grind. Then after four years of just doing shows here and there, and realizing that I am kind of built for the road. I really didn't have much else outside of that kind of life. It's just been too much of a part of what I do and who I am and there was really no great alternative and I need to get back out there while I can. While I have the opportunity and while it's still something that I can physically do,” Francis said. “I'm not always going to be able to put on these intense shows day after day with all the travel involved. It's good for me I think. I think it's way better than me deteriorating in my house and stressing out over business matters.”

Sage Francis hit his stride over a decade ago at Cincinnati's former annual hip hop festival, Scribble Jam. There, he won the emcee battle in both 2000 and 2001. He still fondly remembers his time in the Greater Cincinnati area.

“The Scribble Jam days was a special period for many reasons. It's sort of the place that so many things kicked off not only in the hip hop movement, but I made a lot of friends there. That's where I first gained national recognition and so much spawned out of that era and Scribble Jam being the hub of activity that all of us would meet at yearly. It was very, very important and I miss it for sure,” he said. “We were making things up as we went. There was no template and I think a lot of rules were being bent and broken during that time as far as hip hop was concerned, what people thought hip hop was supposed to be and what it could do and just be immersed in it. I don't think we were aware of how important it was at the time, when you're involved with it, it's just normal but now you look back and say 'Wow, that was a very special period for all of us that continue to make music and build fanbases.”

From his Scribble Jam success, Francis propelled his career with his hit single, “Makeshift Patriot” with its critique of American media during and after the September 11 attacks. He then released his first solo album Personal Journals in 2002.

After many years of recording and touring, Francis founded his own label, Strange Famous Records where he has released several mixtapes as part of the Sick Of series. He says that he still has passion for what he does, but it's not always what he loves.

“I love parts of it, but I have never been in love with the whole process,” he explained. “There are elements to it that definitely makes it worth my while, but there's a lot of elements that have nothing to do with happiness or love but with a sense of accomplishment and duty that plays an important part of what I do.”

As for his shows, he says that he would like to focus on material from the new album, but that he recognizes that he has fans from a lot of different eras of his career.

“I mix it up. I make sure that there is a good mix of old and new. Normally when I do a tour off a new album, I try to focus mainly on the new stuff, but it's been almost a year since that album came out and I am kind of bringing some of the older stuff back into the mix,” he said. “Really I think it's important for the show overall that I represent my entire catalog and it's not easy considering how much I have put out since the late 1990's. My fans come from all different eras, so there are people who are really into the 2005 stuff, people who are into the '99 stuff and people who are really into the brand new stuff. It's good for me to hit up all of those different albums and make sure that people don't walk away disappointed that I didn't at least perform their favorite material in front of them.”

While there are parts to his music that fans of the past will recognize and appreciate in his newer material, Francis says that he would hate to have remained static as an artist.

“I hope that I show a change in development because if I don't, I should just stop. I have to push myself as an artist and one thing that stays consistent is that I am really hard on myself the way the writing process goes. People ask why I don't do songs like I used to, why don't a do more like a non-profit sound, and I don't live that life anymore. I'm not that person and I can only document my life as it right now with the tools that I have available to me and I never will try to recapture something that I once lived. That would be a total waste of my time and effort.”

Tickets for the show on July 16 can be purchased at Tickets are $15 in advance and $17 at the door. Madison Live opens its doors at 7 and the show begins at 8.

Written by Bryan Burke, associate editor

Photo: Sage Francis (provided)