Harry Wolff

You can't escape my laugh.

Learn About Indie Rap: Sage Francis and Brother Ali

July 8, 2010
Read time 3 minutes

Underground rap artists don’t get much press. It’s a shame, some of these artists are incredible, bringing new ideas and sounds to the musical soundscape unheard of before. And really the more diversity that’s out there the better it is for everyone, hearing the same type of sound over and over gets old and boring. So thank goodness for these under-promoted, highly-qualified artists.

I want to bring your attention to two new underground rap artists that I have recently come across. They both have a unique style of lyrical delivery that, in its current incarnation, I doubt would be accepted on most mainstream radio stations. I don’t think it’s impossible for them to ever achieve mainstream success however I don’t think it’s their intention. They know what they do, they do it well, and I’m looking forward to hearing more of it.

Sage Francis

The first artist I want to introduce you to is Sage Francis. A little background from his Wikipedia page:
Paul "Sage" Francis (born November 18, 1976) is a hip-hop artist from Providence, Rhode Island . He is credited with being one of the forefathers of the Indie Rap genre.
The first time I listened to one of Sage Francis’ songs was a couple of months back. At the time of my listening I was not in the right mood or state of mind to correctly hear the content of the song. As such it was not until this past month that I was reintroduced to Sage Francis and his music finally ‘clicked’ for me. The most interesting thing I have found about Sage Francis is the way which he raps: rapidly and verbosely. Similar to Eminem’s quick method of rapping, however I feel as though Sage’s rap’s are even quicker.

He just released a new album, titled L(i)fe. After listening to a few songs from this record I delved into his musical past, and gave his older album from 2002, Personal Journals, a listen. One song has stuck out the most for me is the track titled Broken Wings. Give it a listen below: and

[audio:Sage Francis - 06 - Broken Wings.mp3|titles=Broken Wings]

If you liked the track check out some more of his songs on his MySpace page. And if you want even more visit his indie label’s website, Strange Famous Records, and buy something!

Brother Ali

Brother Ali is another powerful underground, indie rap artist. I’m not sure if he’d welcome the label of indie or underground however from my vantage point that seems most correct.

Again, having some context for the artist never hurts. Wikipedia if you please:

Brother Ali was born in Madison, WI, and spent his early childhood moving from city to city in the midwest (mostly in Michigan). Ali’s family settled in Minneapolis, Minnesota, in 1992. He attended Robbinsdale Cooper High School in New Hope, MN. It was in Minneapolis that Ali converted to Islam and was given the name Ali (he was born Jason Newman).


Brother Ali was born with the rare genetic condition of Albinism. This means he lacks the pigment that would normally give the skin, hair and eyes their color. The condition exists in all ethnic groups throughout the world & even animals. Cosmetic evidence of the condition is usually accompanied by visual difficulties. Brother Ali often makes fun of the media's constant urge to mention his condition in the first lines of their reviews or newspaper articles.

Brother Ali’s style of rapping is more accessible than Sage Francis’, with his songs being structured in a more commonly understood format. The music that accompanies his raps are also a bit more streamlined than Sage Francis’, and for Brother Ali it fits. The content of Brother Ali’s lyrics is generally controversial and provocative. One of his most provocative songs’ is his track Uncle Sam Goddamn. Aside from its lyrics pushing some buttons people may rather not hear, it’s an amazing track. Lot of emotion and good feel in it. Have a listen below:

[audio:Brother Ali -12 - Uncle Sam Goddamn.mp3|titles=Uncle Sam Goddamn]

There’s more songs on his MySpace page as well. Also there’s a video at the top which I heavily recommend you watch. Very good stuff in there.


So there’s two artists for you to munch on. Rap always gets my blood going and keeps me awake. Also great to have on hot summer days, of which we’ve been having plenty.

If you know of any other good rap artists, underground or above let me know about them. I’m always on the hunt for new music.

And if you liked a particular song from either Sage Francis or Brother Ali let me know in the comments.

Happy listening.