Sage Francis A Healthy Distrust

[Epitaph; 2005]

Styles: progressive hip-hop, underground rap
Others: Buck 65, Dose One, Immortal Technique, Blackalicious

Comparing most MCs today is apples to oranges. For example, on a technical level, Sage is every bit as skilled as Eminem. They've both won competitions, so they both have a piece of paper or metal somewhere that proves they can say a lot of words very briskly and have them rhyme and flow. But this comparison of skill that you may possibly violently disagree with is not in the least important, no matter how badly you want to defend your lifestyle. Saying Em is better than Sage is like saying Al McInnis was better than Gretzky based on their slap shot speeds, which would be completely wrong due to certain inarguable facts, career statistics in that case, just as the facts show Sage is a far better human being than Marshall Mathers, making any opinion justified contrast as meaningful as Bush versus Gore (some choice that was). Whereas Sage has now released three studio albums and a handful of self-released compilations, every song a tribute to what hip-hop used to be while simultaneously shoving society's nose in the mess it continues to create, Em barely managed to get a mock Bush video out a week before the US election in between his usual wife murdering anthems and pointless celebrity pot-shots that make up every other song he's ever written (making fun of Michael Jackson in 2004... there's a challenge). This makes Sage a lot more dangerous; he is, after all, taking shots at figures that make people "disappear," yet infinitely better for your mind. Up to his usual high barred standards, A Healthy Distrust is not just a hip-hop album. It's a straight-up indictment of Western consumer culture, corporate monopoly acting as morality, and the media government that controls the majority of it, operating in the same vein as Jello Biafra and Noam Chomsky. Recruiting, among others, Dangermouse, Alias, Sixtoo, and Reanimator, the beats here are more consistently of a hard-hitting industrial breed made popular by Jay-Z's Black Album and G-Unit, as opposed to the typically fuzzy, warm underground sound that filled Personal Journals but with the important difference that these beats have soul and artistic variance as opposed to consisting of nothing more than a bunch of market-tested sounds picked by executives out from catalogues. Anything manufactured music can do, Sage and the like can do for real. Distrust is crucial not only as the resurrection of the passion and soul of hip-hop in the face of the overwhelming monetary success of pop-hop, but as a vital questioning of feudal policy, raising awareness, and sounding good doing it. Sage has and continues to do his part. Now it's up to us.

1. The Buzz Kill
2. Sea Lion
3. Gunz Yo
4. Escape Artist
5. Product Placement
6. Voice Mail Bomb Threat
7. Dance Monkey
8. Sun Vs Moon
9. Agony In Her Body
10. Crumble
11. Ground Control
12. Lie Detector Test
13. Bridle
14. Slow Down Gandhi
15. Jah Didn't Kill Johnny
16. Slow Down Gandhi

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