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Sage Francis, ‘Human the Death Dance’ (Anti-/ Epitaph)

“This is hip-hop for the people,” says Sage Francis early on his fourth album. “Stop calling it emo.” Stop bellyaching and maybe we will. Francis’ relentless self-examination can strike real sparks — he’s a clear-eyed lyricist and his unorthodox flow is plenty energetic — but he falls into mawkishness far too often (“All they ask is why I wear these glasses / And all I can tell them is, hell, it’s good fashion”). Still, this is more mature than 2005’s A Healthy Distrust, boasting straightforwardly soulful production and smarter punch lines (“If you ain’t dead / You ain’t a suicide girl”).

Now Hear This: Sage Francis – “Civil Obedience” DOWNLOAD MP3