Artists make it a challenge for us to write about them when they don’t fly with the swarm.
With the release of Chimera EP, the Queens breath of fresh air called Homeboy Sandman celebrates his fifth year since he began to swim upstream, avoiding all the genre tags I’d like to tag him with. Sandman addresses hip hop cliques as a big problem, exposing a rap industry of non artist swag experts pushing their illusions of artistry to chase paper, babes and fame. With all this in mind, Sandman’s chosen angle is that he has no angle.
Homeboy Sandman pulls himself out of the gangster rapper lane, the swagger rapper lane, the hipster rapper lane and the abstract, underground backpacker lane (to name a few.) He steers clear of fake ego presentation altogether. There is no storefront and fake smile with Homeboy Sandman. He speaks raw ideas about the lifestyles we choose, coupled with an inherent sense of rhythm and rhyming ability, all the while showing us how this is enough to make him a household name.
Sounds screwy, don’t it? How does the Homeboy rap about positivity without coming off lame?
His talent. Homeboy’s truth is spilling from his ears. He breathes a guide to everyday life through his raps that would be too big to fit into any rap click. This may be rooted in wisdom learned from age, as the rapper is 31 and has been making a push in the rap world for only 5 years. After a few listens to his underground breakthrough The Good Sun, a refreshing picture forms of a regular dude who has his shit together despite having little more than his words.
I’m two years late to the 2010 record, so I had the benefit of listening with no aim or urgency. My mind was open. After my first listen, I walked away from the album thinking, “This guy is kinda rapping bout love aint he?” But love is too broad a term, with all of our varied associations and connotations with the word.
Rather, Homeboy Sandman cleverly and calmly rejects the grand ignorances we live by, as seen through the lens of a broke poet trying to break out of NYC. The way to living right seems so obvious to Sandman. He brings us to his conclusions, crafting effortlessly mastermind verses and hooks criticizing the way we conduct ourselves with strangers, the hormoned food we choose to eat, our obsession with money and even addresses the criticism he gets from the rest of the hip hop world.
It will take a few listens to hear all of the gems Sandman drops in his twisting and turning raps, as his super packed vocabulary tends to wrap a dozen rhymes in as few seconds as possible. By rhyming his bars at nearly every punch, Sandman revives an artform which has lost its way in a sea of weed rap and thug motivation.
Sandman is a bit of an enigma with a pen. From his raps you’ll learn that he has no problem being the poorest dude at a social function, wearing sweatpants everywhere and counting on his personality to bring him to where he wants to be. The emcee is socially conscious while playfully hinting at insanity, flexing just how colorful his mind is in “The Miracle.”
This psychedelic documentation of the creative spark is featured on his first release with Stones Throw titled Subject:Matter. Homeboy’s wild divergence from The Good Sun seems like an experimental celebration, as the rapper must have been pretty excited to be signed to the world renowned (and often trippy) progressive hip hop label Stones Throw.
I didn’t realize how much I needed to hear someone rap without a wall in front of them. There are no illusions with Sandman, just a lot of head nodding in agreement and encouragement to walk around without a mean mug on your face. Sandman is not a positivity rapper, he’s a truth seeker. There’s a difference. The rapper sees things for what they are, strips them of any wishful naïveté and offers nicely rhymed solutions for the everyday stressface.
Homeboy Sandman got his start at poetry clubs, and his mastery of the English language has replay value for years to come. Sand’s catalogue is loaded with rich, layered bars. Check his promo rap for the release of Chimera EP, the latest disc from Homeboy Sandman and his second release since his signing to Stones Throw Records.
Your life may also come without the glitter coating. Let Sand speak your mind to you.
Chimera EP on StonesThrow.com