INTERVIEW: Homeboy Sandman
Finding life’s best path is sometimes a very winding road. This was no different for Queens own Homeboy Sandman. Following graduating from college, he bounced around trying to figure out his passion. This included some teaching, a little bartending, and two stints in grad school. But he finally came around to using his gifts as an MC and there’s been no turning back since. In his seven years fully devoted to the mic, he’s become one of the most followed voices in the independent hip-hop community. Now with indie powerhouse Stones Throw Records, we had the chance to sit down and talk about his journey and where he’s headed.
You’re coming close to a decade of doing music full time. What’s changed for you as an artist in that time? For better? For worse?
Time flies when you’re having fun. March 30th, I celebrated my 7 year anniversary (that was when i had my first show, March 30th 2007 at the Bowery Poetry Club). That’s what I regard as my beginning even though in truth, I wrote my first sober rhyme three months earlier in December 2006 so that was when my career really began. What’s changed? I’ve changed a lot. As a person, I’ve matured in some ways. Immatured in others. I’ve gone through periods where I didn’t curse. Periods where I wouldn’t reference women in a sexual way in my rhymes. Different diets. Different hair styles. I went through a period where I chose my clothes at random. From a period where I was big into sneakers. I have had views change with regard to race, sponsorships, and my responsibilities as an artist. Dag, I’ve been through a zillion changes. All for the better I think. Even places where I take a step back to take two steps forward. It’s all part of the journey.
With White Sands, you ended a three album arc working with a single producer at a time. How did that affect your process for each record? Did you miss working with multiple producers?
Still plenty more producer based EPs and projects on the way. Including but not limited to Senile Chef produced entirely by 2 Hungry Bros. That said, I really enjoy finding producers that I click with on the level where we can produce an entire release worth of art. El RTNC, M Slago, and Paul White, all three of them dudes are wizards to me. And I’ve got much more stuff with them in the pipeline. Matter of fact, look out for the boy sand/urban word project looking to drop sometime by the end of this year, produced entirely by El RTNC. I love the cohesive vibe to a project that working with a single producer creates. it allows me to show one side of myself, in depth, whereas working with different producers on a project, allows me to show many different sides of myself. Like one side in depth versus many different sides. That said, I’m very amped up for my next LP Hallways dropping this summer, featuring production from 2 Hungry Bros, Oh No, Knxwledge, Jonwayne, DJ Spinna, and a wealth of other production phenoms.
You just made an appearance on the stellar J-Live album Around The Sun. What collaborations are you hoping to make a reality in the future?
Big shouts to J-Live. It’s always a pleasure working with him. He’s got a verse on Hallways too. I’d love to get some production from Q-Tip. And from the RZA. Hallways also features a collaboration with lutist Jozef Van Wissem, and he and I are looking to work on more stuff together too. I’d love to get some produce from Danger Mouse. I could really go on and on with this question.
You received some heat for your response to Donald Sterling’s racist comments ‘Black People Are Cowards’. Were you disappointed or surprised by the feedback you received in your article? Do you plan to address the situation musically?
I wasn’t disappointed or surprised. It was a blessing to have the piece get in front of as many eyes as it did. I’m very thankful not only for the connections I’ve been able to make with people who see things the same way I do, but also for all of the insight I’ve gained from conversations with people who feel differently from me. As far as addressing the situation musically, that’s pretty much what my entire career is based on.
I know you’re about to kick off a tour. How do you approach the grind of touring? What’s your goal when you hit the stage?
I intend to do some reading on the travel between cities this next tour. It’s interesting I find that when I’m in the US and mostly driving in-between cities that i prefer to read and when I’m abroad and flying and taking trains everywhere i prefer to write. That’s how it’s been so far anyway. i like touring. Meeting new fans and visiting new places. Doesn’t seem like much of a grind to be honest. Travel. Have fun. Travel. Have fun. Travel. Have fun. Having fun isn’t really a grind. Is traveling a grind? Sometimes those car trips can get pretty long, but i try to keep myself occupied. Whenever possible, I try to stay up having fun all night the night before so I can just sleep through the entire travel. My goal when I hit stage is to convey my art to the crowd as impactfully as possible.
You’ve dropped a lot of material over the past two years. Are you going to take a break? What projects are you looking to pursue going forward?
I have the luxury of writing actually being what I do when I’m taking breaks, so lookout for Hallways. Look out for Senile Chef. I actually just suggested another release to the label but I haven’t heard back from them about that yet so don’t wanna let that cat out of the bag and got a number of other cats i’ll keep bagged for the time being. But there’s definitely plenty coming down the pipeline. Definitely look out for that The Cure/The Curator series I’m putting together coming out too, which in addition to bringing you choice cuts from other gifted cats you may not be up on is always gonna include some brand new boy sand too.