PHOTO GALLERY: Leedz Edutainment Presents Sage Francis

Where: Middle East Downstairs – Cambridge, MA
When: May 31, 2014
Highlight: Vulnerable philosophizing from hip-hop’s Slavoj Žižek

Bedecked in a flowing Strange Famous Records flag, and a lopsided toupee, Sage Francis pummeled the Middle East with an ebullient return from four years of sequestration. The reclusive “Fatty McFrancis” emerged with songs that annotated his personal and political struggles, blending classic cuts alongside material from Copper Gone. Early on, Francis framed the show with a new song, “Pressure Cooker,” that admitted, “I’ve been busy, busy, doing stuff/Copper Gone, I had to take my time/To get my life together, put everything in line.” The rhyme spoke to inner battles, while the title alluded to Boston’s collective struggle after the marathon bombing. He joked the album was originally going to be called “Boston Strong,” then paused. “But that would be pandering.”


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As the founder and chief MC of Strange Famous Records, Francis has built a sterling reputation for independent music and bitting criticism. He symbolized this by noosing a Strange Famous flag on the chorus of “Makeshift Patriot,” a 9-11 commentary that laments, “The flag shop is out of stock/I hang myself at half-mast.” As the track finished, and projected stars lit up his face, Francis threw himself into a raucous cover of “America, F-Yeah.” It was this ironic humor that sustained audience energy through some heavy moments, such as when Francis described a beloved cat that needed “a feeding tube into his neck” on a song with the double-entendre title, “Make ‘Em Purr.” And when he removed his mess of hair, revealing a Sharpie-drawn fade/combover combo on his bald dome, it was hard not to laugh even when accompanied by descriptions of a “self-inflicted prison” from which Francis has escaped. In this, Francis thanked his loyal fans with a cathartic journey, a release from years as “a comma with no pause. A rebel with no clause.” The album, the tour, it all added up to a giant “Thank You” from a larger-than- life MC. An MC who looks, and sometimes philosophizes, like a sweaty Slavoj Žižek.

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