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Sage Francis 

With Gruvis Malt, Spittin' Image, Besto, and Phonologic. Sunday, March 2, at the Phantasy Theatre.

Standing tall among the indie-rap vanguard, Rhode Island's Sage Francis reveres hip-hop, and he remembers it fondly. "I am very indifferent to the hip-hop world today," Sage says on Non-Prophets.com, his crew's website. "I don't think much about it. Bling-bling versus headwraps versus backpackers? Gimme a break. All of them are a part of the mainstream."

Sporting a beard and flannel shirt, Sage made a splash on the template-free independent scene, freestyling as few can and occasionally gravitating to spoken word. In the cult cut "Mullet," the white rapper relates the difficulties of growing up under rap's spell in his "rock-and-roll-assed town." Recalling the metalheads who busted his young chops, Francis identifies his unique role in his high school: "I was no devil worshiper/ higher-level interpreter." It's a zinger, though he more typically rhymes about introspection and frustration. Released on the alt-hip-hop stronghold Anticon Records, his Personal Journals LP makes heads nod in time and thought, as also demonstrated by the single "Makeshift Patriot": The post-September 11 commentary concludes with the warning, "Don't waive your rights with your flags." Or your hands.

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