Homeboy Sandman

Homeboy Sandman
Photo: Raul Buitrago
Don't call Homeboy Sandman slept on, call him super prolific — so fast, heads have trouble keeping up; the Queens, NY MC is delivering Kool Herc: Fertile Crescent hot on the heels of 2012's First of a Living Breed. The "Fertile Crescent" that Sandman's latest effort refers to is the lush crescent-shaped "cradle of civilization" geographic territory of Western Asia/northeast Africa. Working with producer El RTNC on the entire effort, Kool Herc: Fertile Crescent is both a "big-up" homage to the influential DJ and also a statement that he went back to the hip-hop roots to cultivate a respectful, diverse and intellectually minded effort. Fertile Crescent sees Sandman add another project to his growing library — one worth repeated spins.

What did you hope to accomplish with this album?
I think this project has its own unique sound and tone. Kool Herc: Fertile Crescent is definitely the grittiest project that I've ever put out. I think it's about grit and some eeriness going on.

What was the motivation behind creating this record?
I make music all the time and I wanted to get it out. Soon as this one comes out, [new album] All I Hold Dear is coming out after that. I got mad joints and I want to get them out. Cats that love hip-hop music like myself, we can't get enough of it. I wanted to get this out.

So you feel like you're slept on when it comes to people appreciating you as an artist?
To be honest I don't really feel slept on and I don't really feel underexposed really. I don't feel slept on because the people who know about me know I get busy. It's about getting more and more people to know. I'm happy with the rate that I'm picking up exposure. I think of myself as on the way to where I'm going. I'm having fun.

You're also a blogger/writer for sites such as Gawker and Huffington Post. Why did you decide to step into this type of arena as well?
I want to get the word out. My last piece was just about media conglomerates and the consumption of information. That's why I make music and why I write those pieces. If you listen to my records you'll see there are things that I want to speak on and that comes through. There are things that I want to say and I've got perspective and points. It's about reaching everyone in the world, as many people as possible. I feel my perspective is on point and I have something to say. The responsibility is on me to make sure that people catch it. My music is not a product that's ripe for product placement or being driven by capitalism. It is going to be well received though, because of its artistic merit.

What keeps you motivated to make music then?
Making music is what brings me joy. Truthfully it's what brings me joy. It's a good thing, to be able to have my passion be my career. It's a good thing to be able to bring so much from it. To wind up being able to have food as a result of it. Because I make records and writing raps is what makes me feel good. If I can write a rhyme, then it makes me feel good. There have been times where I've been in a creative funk and all these other parts of my life have been abundant. But if I'm in a creative funk then I don't feel happy. I value happiness. I wake up and I want to write. People ask me why I put out so much music. And I'm like yo, I got a lot of music to put out.

How has your sound or musical approach evolved over the years?
When I first started making music, it was kind of easier to pinpoint who and what my influences were. The first album was obvious I was listening to a lot of Big Pun, Eminem, Black Thought. And people would bring this up to me and I couldn't disagree with them. Granted, those are some of the greatest MCs of all time so it was cool for people to say that I sound like these dudes, but I wanted to develop a sound that wouldn't make people think of anybody else. To now, it's very important to me to have everything sounding fresh — new sound, new production — I don't want anything to sound like anything that's been done before. You know, there will be elements in there. [This] album has a lot of those age-old elements in it. But nothing is going to be a bite. You're not going to listen to anything and say it's a bite of anything. Shit, I don't even want to bite myself. I think having the capability to listen to a piece of production and craft a flow from a cadence and a melody standpoint and the musically of the notes that I'm rhyming in, is something that I take into consideration. To do that at the level that I'm doing it now is what separates me now from when I first started. It's really like a muscle; the most you do it the stronger it gets. When I started off I was doing pull-ups but now I'm at a level of an Olympic gymnast. I don't feel that there's anything I can't do.