Recently, here at Infectious, we ran a “Best of 2012” list highlighting the staff picks for…you guessed it, Best (insert random category) of 2012. Well, the best song category came up and I found myself absolutely confounded with the thought. What makes a song even worth the title “Best Song of 2012?” Well, that’s a damn tricky question considering the vast differences in perspective/tastes among average listeners. My goal? Find an undeniably awesome song that speaks to the human condition but inherently knows the meaning of catchy. Something not just media friendly but…human friendly.
‘Ubuntu (Water into Wine)’ by Sage Francis is an amazing song, and a perfect pick, for that reason. If you haven’t heard the song or read the full story behind the track or if you want the opportunity to donate to the cause, you can (and should) do so, here.
Now, with the song of choice in tow, I wrote up a quick article and submitted it. What happened next was nothing more than what, I believe, is supposed to happen. I found myself wanting to be a part of this cause. The objective slap in the face that jogged me out of my perfect bubble had done the job nicely. So, I gathered some courage, and in an effort to do what I can to help, sent off a request for an interview with one of the best lyricists/thinkers of our time.
Again, thank you to Sage Francis for taking the time to let me ask him some questions on his experience and how it ties into his life as a working musician. (Interview by: Eric Monfette)
IM: As the founder of Strange Famous Records, you are a very influential name in the underground hip-hop community. What sparked your initial interest in lending your voice to this cause? And since returning home has there been any immediate impact in the community of musicians that call Strange Famous Records their home?
Sage Francis: I was invited to Durban, South Africa to take part in a program where HIV+ children who were going through treatment would be given moral support and have their story told by musicians/poets. I was told that I should learn about their situation and write a “praise poem” for them. I had never been to South Africa before so I was all about it. This wasn’t something I had much time to prepare for, so I kind of jumped into it blindly. Blindly. haha. At the risk of being punny or using silly word play, it was an eye opening experience. To say the least. My interest in lending my voice to this situation is purely rooted in what I witnessed while I was there and knowing that I had the access to people who wouldn’t have heard this story otherwise.
IM: Were there any apprehensions when you first decided to get involved in this effort?
Sage Francis: I was given about a week’s notice to prepare for a 14 day stay in Durban for something I had no clue about, so yeah…I had my apprehensions. One small example is that I didn’t have enough time to get the vaccinations I was advised to get even though I hit up every hospital in my state. I actually returned home from South Africa with a staph infection and strep infection which cost me an additional $500 in medical bills. The original bill was over $1000 and after I hollered at the hospital about that they lowered the cost by 50%. Such a silly system. Regardless, it was a small price to pay for everything I learned and all the great people I met during my trip abroad. I couldn’t ignore the irony punching me in the face though. I traveled half way around the world to help out the people who aren’t getting proper medical treatment, and then I end up getting whacked with outrageous fees back home for simple blood work.
IM: As a person who expresses yourself for a living, what kind of lasting effect has this trip had on your creative process, if any?
Sage Francis: I don’t think it’s something that affected my creative process. It was a great learning experience. I fell in love with a group of kids who I think about every day. But as far as this affecting my creative process, I don’t really think it’s had any impact. If it has, I’m not aware of it. Not yet.
IM: ‘Ubuntu (Water into Wine)’ showcases the depravity that can plague and undermine the livelihood of millions of people from a perspective that relates humans of all walks of life. Are you a magician? Can listeners expect more wizardry on the subject in the near future?
Sage Francis: Ha, no, I’m not a magician. I’m just fortunate enough to be in the position to tell the story of people who may not have their story told otherwise. I try to do it in a way where it becomes all of our story. I’ll keep telling those stories as long as I can. Thank you for listening.