Sage Francis

No one MC defines indie hip hop better than Sage Francis. The unlikeliest of natives from Providence, Rhode Island, he owns his own label (Strange Famous), his fans are mostly urban white kids and, most important, he walks the line lyrically between indie and mainstream, boasting about a conquest here but then getting all touchy-feely and maybe even tossing in a goofy pun or two there, all the while delivering his thoughts, whims and proclamations in a stoned, poetry-slam-like tone. And right there — which is admittedly right about at the beginning — is where people diverge. There is the camp who think he's an extremely lucky pothead/knucklehead and those who think he's playing the role of extremely lucky pothead/knucklehead, while in reality Francis is a canny, whip-smart, lyrically gifted MC who can spit rhymes with the best of the best of them. He's in town on the heels of his latest release, Li(f)e, and while it's not as strong as his other works, it's still interesting and might have a long payoff. Now it's up to you to decide if the naysayers had it right all along, or if this is an album that nobody will understand until the next one.

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