Non-Prophets – Hope (CD) (2003) (FLAC + 320 kbps)

No one likes Sage Francis. At least that’s how it seems sometimes. After winning a Scribble Jam championship and releasing a series of incredible tour-only CDs, he was given the dubious honor of being recognized as an “Internet superstar.” 2002 saw the release of his Personal Journals on Anticon’s eponymous imprint, and while its emotional poignancy tapped a new vein in the hip-hop canon, valuing vulnerability over machismo fa?ades, its detractors were brutal in their dismissal of its lyrics and style. Now he’s teamed up with longtime producer Joe Beats to develop Hope, and if the album isn’t a direct response to anyone who ever dubbed him “emo,” it’s proof he can play as hard in either arena.

Hope shows a new Francis altogether, employing bouncy cadences, explosive deliveries and complex rhyme schemes. The vast majority of the album references older hip-hop, including that of OC, Black Sheep, Beastie Boys, Audio Two, De La Soul and A Tribe Called Quest, among others. He even drops his own crit with lines like “faker than Raekwon’s stutter” and “Das EFX rocked that band-aid ten years before Nelly did!” His writing focuses on lighter subjects here, from his disdain for rambunctious children (“Disasters”) to his views on commercial music (“Mainstream 307”) to his eccentric nature regarding different facets of existence (“Spaceman”), which all makes for a solid record that, in terms of both diversity and delivery, puts Personal Journals to shame.

For a producer with such a low profile, Joe Beats makes an explosive splash in his first full-length effort. His chemistry with Sage Francis is apparent throughout the album, as their interplay is something many producer/emcee teams could benefit from further exploring. Beats’ use of beautifully raw drum programming hits like a more accessible Jel, and his mid-90s sampling style hearkens back to Pete Rock and Prince Paul, or the low-end proficiency of a young Ali Shaheed Mohammed. From the floating, atmospheric keyboard of “Spaceman” to the triumphant horn-led acoustic guitar crisscross “Tolerance Level”, Joe Beats easily manages to bridge the gap between forward thinking and traditionalism.


01 Intro
02 Any Port
03 Damage
04 That Ain’t Right
05 Disasters
06 Fresh
07 Mainstream 307
08 A Mill
09 Spaceman
10 Xaul Zan’s Heart
11 New Word Order
12 Tolerance Level
13 The Cure
14 Outro


FLAC – Datafile

320 kbps – Uploaded

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