But it's not even a chicken wing to Francis: He's built an impressive career without a stitch of commercial radio play or unsavory corporate pandering. Personal Journals, his 2002 album for Oakland's independent Anticon, was his first full-length for a record label, but he had been self-distributing his music for years by harnessing the power of the Internet and embracing the downloading revolution (Napster actually helped Francis gain his considerable national fan base).
A new addition to Francis' live show is the Gimme Fund, a band with two acoustic guitarists and a drum machine manned by the rapper's partner in crime, Joe Beats. Together, Francis and Beats are the Non-Prophets, who late last year released their debut, Hope (Lex), a hip hop record that clowns the genre's clichéd conventions at the same time it improves upon them. Expect to hear a live mash-up of folk stylings with the essential old-school hip hop boom of the T-808, not to mention a taste of the as-yet-unreleased material Francis has compiled for his next album, due out later this year on the punk-leaning Epitaph Records (which signed him to a three-album deal). The Non-Prophets will appropriately close the show with songs off of Hope, all performed with a middle finger to the Man.