When I was young my Dad used to play Bob Dylan songs for me in the car. Of course as a kid I didn't get it. This guy was just saying a lot of words in a really weird voice. It was hardly as good as the Raffi cassette that my Mom played in the car. My Dad would explain to me that despite what I heard, Bob Dylan was considered one of the best songwriters in the world. My little ears couldn't understand why - half the time I couldn't even understand him. My Dad said that Dylan's best songs were stories - stories of life, of struggle, of injustice and sometimes even my Dad didn't know what they were about. Bob Dylan was bringing to light social issues that affected him, maybe these struggles and injustices didn't happen directly to Dylan personally but he was retelling them for us. My Dad called this folk music. This is now how I describe hip-hop to my Dad.
Growing up in a middle-class suburban town was fine. I liked our pizza shops and walking around at two in the morning and not seeing a single soul. It was fine. My neighbors were either big families or older couples, we had very little crime and we had great Halloween candy. Those who didn't have pools had trampolines. And absolutely none of these traits were portrayed in the hip-hop I listened to as a kid. None of it. My hip-hop heroes were from something called "the streets" they would "slang drugs" and some of them went to prison. They were passionate and filled with emotion and that was what I could relate to. None of my cousins went to jail and none of my friends were ever killed over gangster shit. But still, some music speaks to you and hip-hop spoke to me. Maybe the same way that "Maggie's Farm" spoke to my Dad.
Then in 2001 I found Sage Francis. More than ever this hip-hop spoke to me. His song "Makeshift Patriot" was on a Punk-o-Rama mix and it blew my mind. From then on I was hooked. I bought all his records up to that point and have been buying them ever since. In 2010 Sage released his fourth studio album Li(f)e. With that album he finally gave me a hip-hop song I can relate to. In the final track Sage tells a story we all can relate to. Life - Death - And failing math class. I'm going to stop writing now so you can listen to it.