abovegroundmagazine.com: Hip-Hop has always lended itself to souls who marched to the beat of a different drum. In this culture the zanier your personality and the more outlandish you can be the better, so long as you can rhyme. Once upon a time the landscape was much richer with authentically quirky folks who spoke their minds and broke down artistic barriers. Today we mostly just have a bunch of people that run around trying to do, say and wear whatever they can for the sake of shock value and notoriety. Gone are names like Old Dirty Bastard and Professor X, men who could intrigue as much as they could entertain and were undoubtedly gifted with the ability to make you think about the music they laid down. The dismal tide of things points to their era almost completely being over, but as 2010 begins to really get it’s feet wet along comes an emcee who reminds you a bit of how diverse our poets once were. His name is Homeboy Sandman.
The story behind Sandman’s rise through the ranks of NYC’s underground circuit reads like a movie script; Queens bred neighborhood kid falls in love with music, comes of age, struggles with a drug addiction, begins performing wherever he can in the city spewing conscious lyrics, starts a website, gets placed on some big releases through his glaring talent, buzz grows, signs deal, prepares to release a highly anticipated debut…LOL, okay that was the quick version no doubt, but Sandman’s path indeed is the one less taken and even far less expected to lead somewhere, yet here he is making music, saying things that matter.
The Good Sun is a full introduction to the Indie music maker’s manic, densely packed lyrical barrages that he seems to have pre-packaged into his cerebral cortex, ready for firing at a moment’s notice. Sometimes the music is reflective, like on the Ski Beatz produced “I Can Rhyme Though”, and in other instances far more mellowed (“Mean Mug”), but always, always poignant. I don’t remember a track that didn’t have at least a couple of jewels to either marinate on or take with you on your travels. Don’t get the wrong impression, Sandman never comes across as preachy or in a “know it all” type of manner, he remains honest and asks questions…
Un-shy about flexing his glowing talent for sing-rhyming; a practice employed throughout the album and never mis-used, a good amount of the choruses get blessed with absorbed and harmonious warbles that he falls into the cadence of so effortlessly I barely ever noticed, I just hummed along.
No matter what mood is set, be it melancholy, accusatory or slick he seems comfortable and at home speaking on issues that most artists might consider too heady for a rap album (or just to know about in general)…Meanwhile Sandman can rhyme about it all, politics, race, selflessness, dishonesty, poverty, conspiracy–you name it, he can say something (or five things) about it–lickety split and it’ll be clever too. He’s a lot niftier than most who attempt to do it these days and it’s appreciated. The little nuances of his rambling vocal paths grow on you while helping you grasp the immense care he takes in his craft. It’s no wonder that a trifecta of NYC’s golden era production luminaries were eager to throw him a beat to get busy over. Included in that list is one half of the legendary Queens duo The Beatnuts; Psycho Les. A man that I haven’t exactly seen collaborating with many artists these days despite the fact that I’m sure he gets requests by the minute. Him giving Sandman the nod should bridge a few gaps into the more orthodox Hip-Hoppers who have been searching for new stuff that rocks, but are too scared to pick up an album by anyone that doesn’t walk around looking and behaving like a billboard for huge corporations.
There’s a raw honesty contained in this album. I never once got the feeling that Sandman was kicking an allegorical type of story. On the contrary, The Good Sun feels immensely personal. One listen to the stirring “Angels With Dirty Faces” or the bereft “Listen” and you’ll understand what I mean.
Homeboy Sandman crosses more than a few bidges on The Good Sun and after you bump it you walk away feeling almost as if you know personally the man who’s rhymes came blaring out of your speakers. Perhaps there are some moments where you have to wear your “open mic hat” extra tight to vibe with, but overall the album is brassy and a fresh effort that seeks to imitate no one. Sandman is un-apologetically himself at every moment, relaying information and analyzations at fiber optic speed for your mind to download. I doubt any debut will be stronger than this in 2010 and this big apple MC has successfully cemented himself and his music as reliable, amplifiable and daringly individual.
$18.99 out of $20
-Dominick “BIG D O” Ledezma