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Sage The Gemini Doesn't Listen to Rap

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By Ezra Marcus

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Sage The Gemini and I are the same age and we both grew up in the Bay Area, which means our teenage years were shaped by the most important event in the history of Western music: the hyphy movement. Hyphy didn't really impact mainstream America beyond "Tell Me When To Go" and that one video of the dude getting carjacked while ghostriding, but it was the vibe for my specific regional generation. I'll never forget watching kids gas, break, dip in the high school parking lot, or the time "18 Dummy" came on at my eighth grade graduation party and we threw a jar of Red Vines all over the floor. Going dumb, as it were. Fast forward seven years—"Gas Pedal" is a viral smash, E-40 just dropped a triple album, and the Bay is once again a Camelot for minimal function music. Heartbreak Gang are the Knights of the Round Table; IamSu is Arthur and Sage his trusted Lancelot. Today the latter drops his debut album Remember Me like a sword thrust to the lizard brain pleasure center in charge of processing rap hooks. It doesn't matter if you believe me when I say its front-to-back heat; you'll hear for yourself out of every reputable car window this summer. 

A few weeks ago I met Sage in the Manhattan offices of Universal Music Group. The charming, soft-spoken 21-year-old MC wore camo sweatpants and snacked on chicken wings while "Red Nose" blared in the hallway. He laughed easily and often. Discussion of his album made his olive-green eyes widen as if contemplating a brilliant distance. Now that horizon is upon us, and it slaps. Get familiar.

 
Noisey: Where’d you grow up in the Bay specifically?
Sage: Fairfield, California.
 
Word. I’m from Berkeley, actually.
Yeah? I was born in San Francisco.
 
When did you move out to Fairfield?
I was probably six, seven.
 
What was it like?
It was a lot safer than where I was. It’s a lot safer, a lot quieter.
 
What was going to high school out there like?
A lot of stuck-up kids. I was hella unpopular.
 
Why?
I went to a rich school and it was just filled with people that had the nicest shoes, a lot of shoes, and they had the nicest clothes and stuff like that. It was all about who had the most money and who was the prettiest.
 
Where did you mostly hang out?
I was in my room. I mean, I was always outside doing something. Mostly I was making beats.
 
When did you start rapping?
I was, like, eight. I did my first song at 12, then I started recording myself at fourteen. Making my own beats and stuff at like, fourteen. 
 
What were the first kinds of things you were rapping about when you were eight?
What kinds of cars I wanted. What kinds of shoes I wanted. 
 
What was your dream car?
Lamborghini, a Viper. I mean, that was kind of cool when I was eight, which wasn’t long ago.
 
You’re twenty-one now?
Yeah, I’m twenty-one.
 
What was your 21st birthday like?
It was horrible, actually. 
 
Really?
Yeah, it was fucking horrible. I went to Palm Springs. Threw up, had panic attacks, didn’t get the money I was supposed to get. I hate driving. I get carsick, so I drove up to Palm Springs for no reason. The show got cancelled. Couldn’t get in the club.
 
Damn, fucked up.
Yeah.
 
Can you walk me through your personal involvement with the yiking trend? 
Well my brother Chunky, he was doing it. I’d see him at parties doing it and I’d see a lot of people doing it, and you know, it started dying down. Then I made  “Gas Pedal” and “Red Nose,” and that brought it right back. People started doing the dance again and stuff like that to it. It just started blowing up again. I don’t really know the history of it, though. I don’t do the dance. 
 

What were your favorite hyphy tracks back in the day?
Everything Keak Da Sneak. What was it? “Super Hyphy.”
 
How about The Federation?
The Federation!  “New Oakland” by Mistah F.A.B. And “Ah Get Stupid” by Driyp Drop.
 
I was all about The Team.
The Team! Oh, Clyde Carson. But Clyde Carson’s more of a “lets have sex” hyphy. He was too smooth [Laughs].
 
Did you ever go to sideshows?
Hell no, fuck that. I was too paranoid.
 
How has the scene in the Bay changed compared to when you first started releasing music versus where it is now?
A lot of things. Not even to sound cocky, but I think us, as the HBK, we really brought the attention to the Bay Area a lot more than what it used to be. We made a way for younger kids to be noticed. That was the plan.
 
What’s the most lavish thing you’ve bought since blowing up?
A mini-mansion.
 
How mini?
It only has four rooms, but it’s huge. It goes in a “C” kinda like- it has a theater in it. Everthing. And I bought a 645 BMW. I don’t know, I haven’t done anything really lavish. Wait, have I? I got a penthouse in Vegas.
 
 
What is the most turned up you’ve ever been?
On stage, because I don’t drink or smoke, or club.
 
You don’t club?
Nope. So, the most turned up I’ve been is on stage at Cal Poly Pomona. It was a good 2500 people there. I hop off the stage, hopped back on the stage, hopped back off the stage, hopped back on, went to a speaker, jumped to the other speaker. It was everything. Took my shirt off, threw it in the crowd.
 
Sick. What was the worst trouble you ever got in at school?
I fought somebody, and then they took me to the office. I actually got mad again and tried to run out of the office and they grabbed me, but I was carrying everyone on me. It was like five people.
 
Wow. Respect.
It was like five people, but my adrenaline was running so bad. And I had to go to court for it and everything.
 
How did you first join Heartbreak Gang?
Su came to do “Gas Pedal,” and I met him for the first time. He was my favorite rapper, so I just knew everything about the movement, and so I kept hanging around a little more, and then he saw that I had the same amount of love for the music as him and I wasn’t trying to mooch off him or nothing like that. You know, I was creative and he thought I was dope. He seemed like a real special talent, and he was like “you might as well join the team, and I was like “for real?”
 
Sick.
I walked outside and almost started crying. 
 
How has Su been a mentor figure for you?
Basically telling me where to go, where not to go. How to, how not to. Just seeing how positive he is and everything that he’s doing, how he dresses. When I first started coming in, he be like “man, we need to take you shopping.” I used to wear a scarf around my waist.
 
Rookie mistake.
I was actually just saying no matter how big I got, I could still do this. But like, nah. I can afford a Gucci belt, so I went and got a Gucci belt and took the scarf off. 
 
How do you perceive the relationship between your sound and the arguably related LA "ratchet" sound of DJ Mustard and the like? 
The sound is definitely from the Bay Area. That’s the Bay Area sound, so no offense to DJ Mustard, but there’s only so much you can do when you have your own brain. If you know the foundation of the sound, there’s just a million things you can do with it. Once people find out that where a sound is coming from, then they’re going to be like, “Wow, this actually sounds different because it’s done the right way.” 
 
What most characterizes the sound of your music, to you? 
The bounce to it. The feeling that it gives to you. The drum patterns, the stuttering of the claps. It’s just a real different material. It’s us.
 
Your songs that have blown up have largely dealt with party themes. Are there serious messages can we expect from your album?
Yea, totally. You know, just have fun. You only live once. You don’t need to drink or smoke to have fun. That’s unnatural. I don’t mess with violence too much anymore.
 
 
What do you mean by unnatural?
If you have to drink to have fun, or if you have to smoke to have fun, then there’s something wrong with you mentally these substances can’t fix. It’s only temporary, that you have to do it so much eventually will fuck you up. 
 
If you were in charge of a high school, how would it be different?
Damn, that’s a good ass question. I feel like I can’t answer it. If I had a high school, there would be no cool crowd, or if there is a cool crowd, everybody would be cool. You’re allowed to dress however you want. Everyone would have a good personality. Everyone help everybody. Just make sure it’s fun everyday.
 
For sure.
I mean, everybody’d get there work done.
 
Would there be a function everyday?
No, not like a function, like fun. It would be fun everyday.
 
Can you pinpoint any specific turning points for your aesthetic?
I always had a vision. I can’t even remember when I got into music. I think I was just born into it. I never had a turning point, this was just always what I wanted to do and how I wanted to do it. I just had to get good at it first. “Gas Pedal” and “Red Nose,” those are kind of joke songs. No one was really messing with my real music, so I had to do some funny songs so I could catch people’s attention and then lay out the real music in my album. A lot of people don’t even know that I know how to rap. I like doing that type of music, but if I’m going to do that type of music anymore, I’m going to really actually rap next time. You know, I was just listening to a lot of people and what they were saying. I was like, “These niggas are saying some retarded shit, so let me say some retarded shit.” Let me at least be creative with it. So I did that. The thing about “Red Nose” is tha with a different chorus, I don’t think I would’ve been famous. 
 
Would you change the song if you could re-do it?
A little bit more lyrical. Spend a little bit more time on the verse, do my ad-libs big, timing.
 
What’s your favorite ad-lib right now?
Just anything. [Laughs] I don’t know. We haven’t even been doing any ad-libs.
 
What’s your favorite ad lib from any rapper ever?
I don’t listen to anybody else. Except for when Su say “ey.” He be like “ey!” Su, when you do that, it’s tight.
 
You don’t listen to any other rappers?
No.
 
Do you listen to other kinds of music?
Yeah, I listen to Reba. Country music. I like her theme song to her show. 
 
That’s a great song.
You heard it before?
 
Yeah.
 
What social network do you think is the thirstiest out of all of them?
Instagram.
 
Do you get insane insta DMs?
Yes.
 
I can imagine.
That’s all you can do, because that’s all I’m gonna say.
 
You’re not going to tell me the most insane insta DM you’ve received?
[Laughs] No.
 
Fair enough.
I’m a very secretive person.
 
Have you always been a secretive person?
Well actually, yeah, kind of, but not as much as I am now. When you tell somebody something it just ruins your whole plan. That’s why I didn’t tell anybody about my plans for “Gas Pedal” or “Red Nose,” because if I had said something I wouldn’t even be here right now. If I had said “Man, I’m doing these songs as joke songs,” I’m pretty sure I wouldn’t have gotten famous off of them. Somebody would be like, “These are just joke songs. I don’t even know why they’re playing this song” and stuff like that. I wouldn’t even be here.
 
What’s something that people might think about you that’s not true, that you want to correct?
That I’m not an Illuminati.
 
You’re not?
Hell no.
 
I suppose you wouldn’t tell me if you were.
Why wouldn’t I? I’d be powerful. I’d have a lot of money. Do you know what the Illuminati is?
 
It kinda escapes me, honestly.
The Illuminati’s filled with white people, no offense. The white people who run the entertainment business have a secret society who basically—I mean, they run the entertainment business, and if you go against them in any way they can ruin your career to where you don’t make as much money. If they feel like you’re making a lot of money, they’re going to ask you to play a certain position, and when you—I shouldn’t even be saying this.
 
No, no, I want to hear.
No, I shouldn’t be saying anything.
 
Have you ever encountered the Illuminati?
No! This is just what I think it is. 
 
Ok. 
I shouldn’t even be saying that.
 
What do you think they would do if they didn’t approve of what you were doing?
I don’t know.
 
You  don’t want to talk about it?
Not at all, no.
 
Ok. So you have no message for the Illuminati?
No, I’m just not with it.
 
What if I’m with them?
[Laughs] You probably are, man.
 
 
Ezra Marcus is with them, now and forever—@Ezra_marc

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