A Healthy Distrust
label: epitaph

production: alias, joe beats, daddy kev, reanimator, controller 7, sixtoo, dangermouse, others.

year of release: 2005
website: non-prophets.com
 
tracklisting
1. The Buzz Kill
2. Sea Lion
3. Gunz Yo
4. Escape Artist
5. Product Placement
6. Voice-Mail-Bomb-Threat
7. Dance Monkey
8. Sun vs Moon
9. Agony In Her Body
10. Crumble
11. Ground Control
12. Lie Detector Test
13. Bridle
14. Slow Down Gandhi
15. Jah Didn't Kill Johnny
Somebody is lying. Somebody is lying to you right now and it's either the Reptiles or the Conspiracy Theorists, either them or Sage Francis, the funniest rapper no one laughs with. Somewhere between Sole and Eminem (oh and will he hate this description) is he one of the last where just listening to every word he says, is worth the effort. And even if the beats would stink, this record would not. But looking at the list of producers, that's no problem neither, right? Right. As there is Alias, Joe Beats, Daddy Kev, Reanimator, Controller 7, Sixtoo and Dangermouse. Right? Right.
Moving on to the lyrics, Sage is one of those haunted souls and he's constantly suffering. But instead of throwing violent tantrums or having crying fits, he shows the world his middle finger, a sarcastic smile and actuates autoentertainment. Sage has a rather unique combination of said humor, clever lines, exceptional delivery, a fondness for words and an actual theme in each song that he circles, surrounds and roughly outlines. The first song "The Buzz Kill" is in many ways just an introduction, where we find him roughly laying out the course of action over the next fourteen songs. He says "I freedom kiss the French for their political dissent / like muah, I do it with tongue this time" and "I thought suicide was a suburban myth / I couldn't see my own hands being the ones I'm murdered with" over a changing and rather hard Reanimator beat.
Things stay on a high quality when Dangermouse teams up with Sage for "Gunz Yo" and rhyming advisedly about guns, he's dissecting many a stereotype and pulling down pants. The Dangermouse beat is really apt, has a nice guitar and comes with a nice dramatic urge. Once he says "I know that only stupid people increase the birthrates / I'm just about dumb enough to hold up a sperm bank," you start to get a hunch on who he wants to use these guns on. Another great moment on the album is the analogy that opens "Escape Artists". Combine that with the always great Alias production - who also did the next track "Product Placement" and the earlier track "Sea Lion" - and you have a great song. Later on the album, Sage kicks religion in the shins on "Sun vs. Moon" over a decent Reanimator beat.
Other producers on this project are Sage's Non Prophets buddy Joe Beats, who's putting a great beat behind some charming words on "Voice-Mail-Bomb-Threat." Daddy Kev does the guitar heavy "Dance Monkey" that's in many ways quite Beastie Boys-ish and will turn every Sage concert in a bone shattering mosh pit. Controller 7 does "Agony In Her Body", Sixtoo puts a familiar piano on "Crumble" and does something that could be better on "Ground Control." And Vatrick Pyr does the superb and soulful "Bridle," where Sage finds a sing songy style to talk about that valentine's rhetoric in his way.
Finally there's "Slow Down Gandhi" - a song where Sage provided the acapella as an mp3, encouraging people to remix it. He picked a song that was already good and where no real need for alternative versions was pressing. What Reanimator does is fitting, but cannot catch up to the once again supreme quality of the lyrics. The finally doesn't take into consideration the ironic Everlast-ish "Jah Didn't Kill Johnny", where Tom Inhaler plucks the guitar and Nathan H. plays the harmonica.
After there was a severe discrepancy between the quality of the beats and lyrics on "Personal Journals", the producer stepped up their game and Sage picked the beats more carefully, now matching his lyrical mastery, making this the first best album of the year.
review: tadah
 
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