Critical Questions: Homeboy SandmanBy Phillip Mlynar
Stones Throw's former beard fanatic rapper comes clean
Five years ago, Homeboy Sandman could be found plastering the New York City subway system with promotional stickers promoting his rap wares. His underground graft paid off, and these days he rolls with the mighty Stones Throw label. Combining an easy-going timbre with intelligently-wrought lyrics, Sandman's music is steadily marking him out as a gem in the New York scene. So having nominated his "Look Out" song as track of the day last week, we checked in with the rapper to talk about his early influences, his label mates, and the pressing issue of beards in rap.
CM: What was the first rap song you heard that inspired you to want to rap yourself?
HS: Might have to be DJ Jazzy Jeff & The Fresh Prince's He's The DJ, I'm The Rapper. That was crazy. Fresh Prince was in full lyrical assault mode and the beat was dope. Cats slept on Fresh Prince because they were so insecure and he was comfortable having fun, but he could spit with anybody out in them days. Two years later I memorized LL Cool J's "It Gets No Rougher" and recited it at a talent show. Another straight up high energy assault. It was probably one of those two.
A few years ago you were known for posting your promotional stickers all over the NYC subway. What's your favorite ever rap promo campaign?
I liked how A Tribe Called Quest worked them red and green people into everything. I like how Wu-Tang Clan turned that Wu "W" into whatever letter they needed it to be, like a "G" for GZA or an "M" for Method Man. Oh, actually Fat Joe had them "Fat Joe Da Gangsta" stickers all over NYC before "Flow Joe" came out. I remember seeing one on a pole on my block and being like, "What the hell is this?" then I saw "Flow Joe" on Video Music Box.
So which artist from the Stones Throw roster, past or present, would you most like to collaborate with?
J Dilla. Because he would lace me with one of the dopest beats of all times, just as he used to lace cats so regularly. Peanut Butter Wolf too. I wanna be the emcee that brings him out of production retirement. I'm going to be.
You used to sport a pretty impressive beard. Which rapper has the greatest beard of all time?
Good question. I gotta go with Black Thought of The Roots crew. He's always rocked his beard. I don't know if it's the greatest beard of all time but he's one of the greatest rappers of all time and he's got a beard. My label mate Jonwayne has a pretty ill beard; Sean P has an ill beard too.
The cover to your project The Good Sun seems like it was inspired by the cover to Grover Washington Junior's Mister Magic. Was that intentional?
Cross my heart and hope to die I never saw that Grover Washington cover until after The Good Sun was out and somebody brought it to my attention! Even though my cover definitely looks like his and I've actually been a fan of his for years and he's definitely worthy of a tribute cover and it would be a privilege to pay homage to him, which I guess I've done, if inadvertently.
Finally, what on your agenda for the rest of 2012?
The First Of A Living Breed LP due out this summer. The world will never be the same.
|Yeah, But I Can Rhyme Though|