An Interview with Sage Francis

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Sage Francis

One-half of the Non-Prophets, Rhode Island resident Sage Francis is a rare beast in hip-hop: he’s a vegetarian emcee/spoken word artist and he’s not timid about saying so. While he’s not the first person in hip-hop to leave the beef for a battle (like the 2000 Scribble Battle, for example, which he won), he’s one of the few that talks openly about it in his lyrics. On “Different,” from his solo album Personal Journals, Sage says:

Growing up in a microscopic town prepared me well for this petrii dish, /
Where talk is invisible to the eye and they hate the guy they’re speaking with. /
I’m a real vegetarian: No chicken…not even fish. /
I’m a real underground rapper: My tape quality sucks, my records are warped and my CD skips.

In this e-mail interview with Sage, he discusses how he became vegetarian and how some of hip-hop’s well-known vegetarians may not be walking the walk.

Ryan: Let’s start with the basic background stuff—what type of vegetarian are you? How long have you been vegetarian? What led you to choose to stop eating meat?

Sage: As my vegan friend puts it, I am a ‘half-assed vegetarian.’ I eat dairy products. I stopped eating meat in 1996 and it was basically done on a bet. My straight edge friends tried telling me that I was addicted to beef because of all the drugs that are pumped into cows. I knew the only reason I ate meat is because it was made available to me in different forms and for very cheap (which is absurd). So I stopped eating meat for a year just to prove them wrong and then when i tried to go back to eating meat again I was repulsed by the flesh.

Ryan: So that was some reverse psychology they pulled, huh? While you proved to them you weren’t addicted, their bet showed you the light. As the years went by, what types of things surprised you and disgusted you the most about food production?

Sage: Basically, they pulled the old, “Oh you couldn’t stop eating meat even if you tried.” Well, I proved them wrong. I most certainly wasn’t to meat. I ate it out of convenience. I truthfully believe that they believed I was physically addicted to eating meat and I knew that was nonsense. I had never been addicted to anything. Not to my knowledge anyway. The thing that disgusted me most about meat was that… I am composed of meat. I don’t feel like chewing flesh. It grosses me out. I know where it comes from and I know how it gets to my plate. If I can have an alternative to meat, I will always go that route. I can’t believe all people don’t do that.

Ryan: What are some of your favorite veggie dishes/recipes?

Sage: I absolutely love vegetarian makki. That’s about as classy as I get. Other than that, I am a sucker for pizza. I’m one of those people.

Ryan: How about restaurants? Are there any favorites in towns that you visit but don’t live near?

Sage: I believe that the only ALL veggie restaurant in RI is the Garden Grille [Caf�], which is unbelievable. Classy joint with scrumptious meat alternatives. My favorite place to eat in Providence is the Meeting Street Cafe which specializes in top quality food of all sorts. I have written many love letters and break up letters in that place.

Ryan: Vegetarianism is one of those topics rarely discussed in hip-hop (aside from every rapper and his mother saying, “even vegetarians have beef with me” or some such). Animal rights, specifically, seems to come up even less frequently, even among political emcees… do you think this disconnect is similar to the one that often exists between environmentalists and animal rights activists?

Sage: Ha ha, good call on the over-used vegetarian punchline. But humans have a lot of wrinkles to iron out between themselves before ‘animal’-rights becomes pertinent subject matter in hip-hop. I do wish ALL people could see the benefits of vegetarianism but there’s a lot of work to be done before that sort of awareness permeates the mindset of rich and poor.

Ryan: What do you think is the most urgent thing people need to know about food production/vegetarianism/etc., even if
they don’t go any further in exploring the topic?

Sage: A conscious diet should be a healthy one. A conscious vegetarian diet is a healthy one. You are not making a sacrifice to your body by depriving it of meat, that is a social fallacy. A true revolution begins with your daily eating practices.

Ryan: When it comes time to tour, have you faced any difficulties finding good eats on short notice?

Sage: Most of the time we are forced to settle with gas station cuisine. Horrible, horrible eating habits on tour. And touring Europe will definitely test a vegan’s faith.

Ryan: In a recent poll, England was named the most vegetarian-friendly country, which kind of surprised me because while Asian countries do eat a lot of fish, it’s not unusual for anyone (not just vegetarians or Buddhists) to eat a dish with seitan or tofu in it. I would have expected somewhere in Southeast Asia to be easier to find veggie food since it’s so ingrained into their culture. Did you find any European countries that were more friendly to vegetarian visitors than others?

Sage: That poll sounds like complete bullshit. Granted, there are a lot of Indian restaurants in England, but there is no way that any spot in the UK is the most vegetarian-friendly in the world. Quite the contrary. From my understanding, there are Asian countries that used to be strict vegetarian until they became westernized. From personal experience, the good old northern US of A is the most vegetarian friendly, but there is one buffet-style veggie restaurant in Montreal that takes the cake. I forgot the name though.

Ryan: Dre from Outkast is vegan, Dead Prez go so far as talking about raw foodism… who else in the hip-hop community is vegetarian/vegan that you know of?

Sage: Dre and Dead Prez may talk the talk, but like most rappers I have a sneaky suspicion they ain’t walking the walk. It’s like… KRS claiming vegetarianism on one song and then I read an interview where he was eating chicken. So who knows. Recently I heard a member of Souls of Mischief say he was vegan. Sole is vegan, Odd Nosdam is vegan, Yoni (Why?) is vegan, and I am the half-assed vegetarian.

You can find out more about Sage Francis at Non-Prophets.com. Be sure to check out his solo work (Personal Journals, the Sick of… series, Makeshift Patriot), his work with Joe Beats as the Non-Prophets (the outstanding 2003 release Hope), and his material with Art Official Intelligence.

18 Responses to “An Interview with Sage Francis”

  1. ron jeremy

    what would it take for you to come to central cali and just rip it and serve some cats and just wild out?
    holla back if you can
    oh yeah “word” is still born!!!

  2. Bteezy

    Ok SAGE YOU FUCKEN ROCK

    as for this guy who posted saying

    “could u pls tellme yr address.and answer my folowing questions.”

    HAHAHAHA jesus first im sure someone who is running their own merchandise business, rapping, and being the dopest underground rapper has no time to answer to the demands of some big goof who can’t sepll sincerely.

    Sincerely,
    B town

  3. Ryan

    Hm — I missed that comment the first time around. I’ll have to delete that waste of space.

    As a side note: I hereby declare myself the lamest hip-hop fan for not driving to Baltimore last night to catch Sage and Joey at the Ottobar. I was going to give Sage some Veg Blog stickers, too.

  4. abe

    you got such beautiful gifts, what are you doing ruining the packaging?????

  5. Rose

    just wondering if sage francis was doing any touring this summer

  6. devon

    The VEG way of life, especially in North America, is often marginalized due to the ”lack of convience” issue. I’m sorry to be redundant, but most people have no time to cook proper meals, nor do major record labels have time to promote alternative rappers. The Golden Arces sells and 50cent is buying. Thats why fast food and major record labels do so well. They have found their market in the quick and easy production of life… Besides that, I guess what I’m trying to say is that it’s not always easy to take the time to put love into important things, whether it be the physical nurishment for our souls, or, melodic sound waves for our ears. So, Props to all those out their who do care about a healthy way of life and healthy hip-hop… Support your local farmers and underground rappers.

  7. Tyler Mowles

    Sage Francis is most likely my favorite rapper in the world I don’t listen to a lot of rap but i listen to his CD a lot

  8. steve

    Christ im dim. It took me like 10 mins to figure out why they were only talking about being a vegan. I searched this interview on google and didnt notice this was a vegan blog. Anyway i hope he tours in Michigan soon cuz i gotta see him live.

  9. Tushar Mehta

    dude

    when you come to toronto and i’ll get you our for some fantastic vegetarian food. just email prior to your trip, so i can round up some friends to come to your show too.

    peace
    Dr. Tushar Mehta

  10. VeganPhreak3000

    Well Well Welll…I do have the love,and i do have the respect for Mr Francis beleive me…But i am one of those NOT half assed vegetarians I.E. a damn vegan…And i find it funny that sage is willing to question other peoples motives when it comes to eating hbits,when he isnt even vegan him self..Does he know the cats in D.P.? does he know andre 3000?…And is he REALLY willing to go off printed magazine word in order to pin point KRS as a fake?…Granted,YES it DOES erk me,i see it in hip hop all the time…Russell Simmons is a “strict vegan” who sells leather clothes,and i have scene KRS in leather jackets,and also scene Dre wearing leathers and fur’s…And well alltho sage may be a “real vegetarian” im sure he still abuses animals in much the same way as any of these other people…Check your shoes sage,Check the dairy sage…Peas out

  11. Ryan

    But i am one of those NOT half assed vegetarians I.E. a damn vegan

    He never disparages vegans… not quite sure where you get the “damn vegan” thing from.

    Does he know the cats in D.P.?

    Don’t know. But I can tell you that Ladybug Mecca’s eating chicken now.

    does he know andre 3000?

    Dude, Andre 3000 is selling fucking fur and foxtails in HIS OWN CLOTHING LINE!

    …And is he REALLY willing to go off printed magazine word in order to pin point KRS as a fake?

    KRS eats chicken, from what I’ve read.

    And well alltho sage may be a “real vegetarian” im sure he still abuses animals in much the same way as any of these other people…Check your shoes sage,Check the dairy sage…Peas out

    I’m not sure why you’re so antagonistic towards Sage… he admits to being “half-assed” since he’s not vegan and he knows he’s not perfect. He admits it, unlike people like Andre 3000 that call themselves vegan but wear fox tails and say shit like, “I’m vegan, but I’ve got to look good!” So what’s the problem?

  12. dylan praught

    hey whats up,

    I was just reading your interveiw and you say the deit on tour is really crappy, but if you ever stop by ottawa On. i could hook you up with some great restarunts. But any step towards vegan i have to give big ups because most people wouldnt even think about it.
    peace

  13. Concepts

    Man sage im like half your age but gotta say i got the most respect for you because you have mad roots, you rap to express not to impress…and how you talk about image…i love it guy….i missed your last show in ottawa with john smith i was pissed…i really want to see u rip the mic man….
    take it easy man concepts

  14. Dillon P

    Sage…You are fucking awesome…You need to play somewhere in Orange County…

  15. decolonize

    heard or read any updates on sage–has he advanced to veganism yet?

  16. ryan

    I don’t think he has, though I’m pretty sure he’s still veg. It’s possible, though — it’s not something he talks about a whole lot.

    I know some other guys in his crew through the years are vegan, though (like Sole and Why?).

  17. skydrill

    @ryan…..i’m from india and wanted to know that -“do they really pump chemicals and those drugs in meat in the us?…..and if they do this, then what are the physical side effects??..because i have seen many americans very huge as compared to us asians and this wasn’t there a while ago……..is it due to the excessive unbanned food hormones being used???

  18. Enduros Testo Booster Supplement

    You can definitely see your expertise in the work you write.

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    who aren’t afraid to say how they believe. Always go after your heart.

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