Queens-bred Homeboy Sandman signed with Stones Throw in August 2011, and since then, has released five projects under the label. His latest projects – All That I Hold Dear (ATIHD), produced by M Slago, and Kool Herc: Fertile Crescent, produced by EL RTNC – are single-producer EPs, a smart move that helps Sand articulate his themes. Sandman talks to us about his projects, why he drops so many joints, and, of course, is nothing but candid.
Stereo Assault: So what’s your creative process? For picking beats, for writing bars, for finding a producer – is there a method to the madness?
Homeboy Sandman: I pick beats that I hear and I’m like, oh snap I gotta rap on that. There’s no method, it’s all gut feeling. With the flow too and with the topic too. All from the gut.
SA: What made you want to create single-producer projects?
HS: I had so much work done with particular producers and needed to get that ish out. “White Sands” coming next produced entirely by Paul White.
SA: How does Kool Herc pay tribute to the father of hip hop?
HS: It’s amazing truthful honest loving talented spirited organic hip hop.
SA: When peeping new music, especially hip hop, I listen first for lyrics/bars. What do you listen for first?
HS: You hear that beat first and I won’t lie, if a beat is crazy I could handle subpar lyrics. Not stupid, hateful lyrics though, no matter how fat the beat is.
SA: You use your joint “Musician”, from ATIHD, as a way to explain your career. Do you think of yourself as an artist, writer, poet or anything else? Do you have an aversion to the term rapper?
HS: Nah, not at all. I am a rapper. Artist. Emcee. Writer. Musician. I think it’s sad what connotation the term [rapper] holds in so many peoples’ minds though. See “Oh, The Horror” on Kool Herc: Fertile Crescent for details.
SA: You create a lot of projects. Why choose to consistently drop new music?
HS: Because I create every day. I already have a major traffic jam going on as far as my joints, that are waiting to get out. I gotta get these joints out.
SA: Can we expect a new full-length album from you next?
HS: “White Sands” has 8 joints on it. Definitely a filling serving.
SA: Socially conscious hip hop is 100% what I associate with Sandman, but you don’t seem like the kinda cat who’s into labels.
HS: Yeah labels are whack. Except for Stones Throw ;]
SA: I don’t think socially conscious hip hop is really slept on, but it kinda seems to fly under the radar. What’s your take on that?
HS: I won’t allow the money-hungry racists who decide what everybody talks about, by controlling the media, to determine what “hip hop/rap” means to me. To me, hip hop/rap is currently beautiful. I’m talking about the cats that are nice. If it’s not talent-based, it’s not hip hop.
SA: You’ve written for HuffPost and Gawker about issues like topical diversity in rap and New York’s stop and frisk program. What moved you to write for these publications?
HS: HuffPost are cowards that ran with their tail between their legs as soon as I began to question the masters they bow to. They’re just a decoy claiming to be the voice of the people. They moderate comments for goodness sake. I’ll take any opportunity to act on, or speak on, the things that I find to be important.
SA: When does a project feel complete?
HS: When I’ve got a sequence that has that perfect flow, top to bottom. That has all the elements that I want the project to have; all the different feelings.
SA: What’s the one piece of advice you’d give to aspiring emcees?
HS: Don’t let fear stop you from doing anything you want to do.
Peep Homeboy Sandman at Blank Space in St. Louis, Tuesday, September 10.