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Born Paul Francis in 1977 in Miami, Florida, Sage Francis spent most of his youth in Providence, Rhode Island. Interested in the poetic side of rap, Francis had been rhyming since age eight, later winning the Superbowl Battle in Boston in 1999 and the Scribble Jam in Cincinnati in 2000 and 2001 (the last under the name of his "metal" alter ego, Xaul Zan). After graduating from Dean College in Massachusetts with an A.A. in communications and from the University of Rhode Island-Kingston with a B.A. in journalism (where he started the now-defunct group Art Official Intelligence), Francis worked on releasing his solo records.
Always an outspoken and political rapper and a strict vegetarian, he started the Sick Of series in 2000 on his independent Strange Famous Records with Still Sick...Urine Trouble, and continued with Sick of Waiting Tables (2001), Sick of Waging War (from 2002, and containing the single "Makeshift Patriot," recorded exactly one month after the September 11 attacks on New York), and Sickly Business (2004). He also released one album on Anticon in 2002, Personal Journals, and was signed in 2004 as the first rap artist on Epitaph Records, which issued his highly anticipated A Healthy Distrust in 2005. Two years later he was working with composer/trumpeter Mark Isham on the soundtrack for Pride and Glory starring Edward Norton. Two tracks from these session ended up on Francis' own 2007 full-length, Human the Death Dance.
Sage Francis is one half of the Non-Prophets (Joe Beats is the producer and DJ), who first recorded the 12" Drop Bass/Bounce/I Keep Calling on their friend's Emerge Records in 1999. A full-length album on Lex Records, Hope, came out in 2004. The very dark Human the Death Dance followed in 2007 with productions from Alias, Buck 65, and Odd Nosdam along with two tracks produced by Isham. Francis' first album for the Anti label, 2010's Li(F)e, went in a completely different direction, being solely produced by Brian Deck (Modest Mouse, Red Red Meat) and featuring musicians from the indie rock bands Califone, Death Cab for Cutie (Chris Walla), Calexico, and Sparklehorse. His 2014 release, Copper Gone, returned to hip-hop and the multi-producer format with beats from Buck 65, Alias, and others.