Music » CD Reviews

Sage Francis

Human the Death Dance (Epitaph)


1 comment
Sage Francis is a champion battle rapper, but the dude makes shitty CDs. Maybe that's because battling -- which requires gimmicky quips, passionately spun -- is a different skill set. Imagine hearing this lyric, from the track "Good Fashion," at a rap battle: "Clowns are playing Russian roulette with paint guns/They run in place and call it the human race." Hell, you would stand up and cheer.

Problem is, on wax -- where listeners have time to really tear apart the words -- Francis' lyrics lack depth. This is why Human the Death Dance, Francis' second disc for Epitaph, resembles a hoochie mama who looks like a 10 from afar, but up close is clearly a butterface. Almost every line sounds profound before you've processed it: "I've seen a wealthy man melt into the snow and blow his credit on a decongestant," and "Toe tags get caught in my teeth 'cause my foot is in my mouth." So . . . he's dead?

But songs like "Got Up This Morning" and "Hell of a Year" could be fun if Francis' whiny voice didn't dominate the mix. The guy should take a lesson from Brother Ali and learn that socially conscious rap needn't be a buzzkill.

We welcome readers to submit letters regarding articles and content in Cleveland Scene. Letters should be a minimum of 150 words, refer to content that has appeared on Cleveland Scene, and must include the writer's full name, address, and phone number for verification purposes. No attachments will be considered. Writers of letters selected for publication will be notified via email. Letters may be edited and shortened for space.

Email us at

Cleveland Scene works for you, and your support is essential.

Our small but mighty local team works tirelessly to bring you high-quality, uncensored news and cultural coverage of Cleveland and beyond.

Unlike many newspapers, ours is free – and we'd like to keep it that way, because we believe, now more than ever, everyone deserves access to accurate, independent coverage of their community.

Whether it's a one-time acknowledgement of this article or an ongoing pledge, your support helps keep Cleveland's true free press free.