In early September the illustrious Stones Throw Records pushed out the latest album Hallways from Queens hyper-lyricist Homeboy Sandman. Breaking free of his single producer dynamic seen on the three project prior, standout beats flooded in from power players Jonwayne, J57, and Oh No, but this stunning instrumental by Denone didn’t surface until nearly two months later as a “bonus” single. Hardly anything resembling a B-side left on the cutting room floor, Boy Sand jumps right into the beat by harmonizing with the vocal sample before laying down some reflective bars about relatable issue with his family. His troubled brother that grew up in the projects isn’t feeling his positive subject matter on raps, his uncle is in and out of jail and projects his insecurities of that on to Sand, his sisters questions the physical representations of his success, and he observes his cousin getting caught up in the materialism of club life despite being a mother. Yet, as unrelatable as he finds them, and probably vice-versa, he still cares about them and their similarities in the fleeting moments he crosses paths with them during the holidays. Something we can all feel.
Few rapers are brave enough to tackle the true realities of their daily life, but Sand makes it a focal point of his writing on a regular basis. He also does it with a lyrical dexterity that few in his era can execute with such an eloquent level of accessibility. There is also an overt rawness to tracks like this. They feel like a stream of consciousness, jotted down in the moment, that is then unleashed in a timely manner. Just in time for the holiday season. Thanks for the generous gift Sand as you hit a stride of what I consider to be your most powerful bars yet.
Homeboy Sandman joins Aesop Rock and Rob Sonic on a three-month tour of these United States of America. He’s currently on tour in Europe through the rest of November.