When I first heard Homeboy Sandman perform live a little over a year ago, I remember thinking, “This guy is unique. He is genuine.” My homeboy Joey from Taste told me the other night “TONE just likes anybody who isn’t full of shit”. He couldn’t be more right. I was an instant fan just on the presentation. I liked the Homeboy Sandman shirt. He is a stark contrast to the droves of bullshit artists and arrogant asses I run into on the regz. Yea, I am a little bit dark over what I have experienced in the scene in the last 3 years but not with Sandman. I liked the flow and the presence. It’s hard to find this kind of musician these days. Almost everyone I know agrees that the NYC rap scene is floundering as it struggles to find itself. To find that unified sound and community it once had. For me, Homeboy Sandman and everyone else in AOK, are among a small group of new voices from NYC.
TONE: I’m curious what you think of yourself from the perspective of being important within the NYC indie Hip Hop scene? Do you think about yourself in this kind of way?
HS: I love NYC, but cats in NYC ain’t rhyming like me. I’m the only one rhyming like me. I don’t agree that the NYC rap scene is floundering. Maybe rappers trying to find themselves are floundering, maybe, but there’s plenty of incredible NYC talent running around leaving marks. Perhaps AOK is a better NYC representation because there’s so many of us and we’re all spread out throughout the city. But even then, am I the voice of Queens just because that’s where I’m from? Cats in Queens don’t be rhyming like me. Fresh Daily definitely takes a lot of pride in being a Brooklynite. We need some Bronx influence in AOK. Dope Bronx emcees to the front.
TONE: As I was saying before, the most refreshing thing about what you’re doing is how genuine it is. Everything I have seen on you, always has this streak of truth running through it. Where is this coming from?
HS: This is coming from me telling the truth. I imagine that cats who don’t tell the truth must feel pretty corny, but I mean I guess I can’t even understand it. Feeling as corny as I’d feel not being myself, feeling as ashamed, I’d have to stop right away. So either these cats are actually being themselves, or they have a much higher shame tolerance. God wants me to tell the truth. That’s why I do it.
TONE: I’m sure you’ve been asked this many times, but I am curious where the name Homeboy Sandman came from?
HS: The Sandman brings you your dream. You could be asleep, you could be awake. You could be daydreaming and that’s the Sandman. He puts these pictures in your head so vivid so real. How does he do that? That’s amazing. How’s he get in there?
The Homeboy is me. I’m your Homeboy. What do you need? I got you. And I’m easy to find.
TONE: Thats real dope. I like that.
TONE: Where are you from originally and how has that influenced your life?
HS: I’m originally from Elmhurst, Queens. Hip hop is pretty big there. It’s influenced my life a lot. My speech patterns. The way I dress. Things like that.
TONE: Tell me about your parents. Do they support your music career?
HS: My parents are the greatest. They support me 100%. They come to my shows sometimes and go nutty.
My mom is my dream girl. Too bad she’s my mom. Good thing she’s my mom though.
My pop is the man. Came over from the Dominican Republic at the age of 15. He didn’t speak a lick of English. Became a boxer. Was the man. Won the Golden Gloves in ’82. Heavyweight Division. Undefeated amateur and pro. Major prospect. Got an unprecedented signing bonus when he turned pro. In his last pro fight he looked out at the crowd of wailing clowns who would never have the balls to step into the ring and realized that he’d just beat up the only other person he liked in the whole building. He quit right then. Didn’t want to beat people up for a living. He thought, what are you gonna do now Angel? I think I’ll become a lawyer he said. They gave him the look they gave me when I told them I was gonna quit law school to become an emcee. Probably even worse. He went to Queens College for 10 years. Then he went to Queens College Law School. Now he’s a lawyer. It’s because of my Pop that I am who I am today. I know I can do whatever I want whenever I want and whatever else anybody says means nothing. A great Pop changes a man’s life.
TONE: Word. Family is key. So, I have to hit rewind for a second. You were also going to be a Lawyer and dropped out of law school to pursue being an mcee?
HS: Yeah. I mean, I decided I wanted to be an emcee and not a lawyer. That bugs people out, but I think that given that fact that I wanted to be an emcee and not a lawyer, it would have been much more bugged out if I’d decided to stay in law school.
TONE: Dude, that’s monstrous. I mean, that kind of courage is big. I really respect moves like that.
TONE: So, has there been an event in your life that shaped the sound of your music or your character?
HS: When Courtney Sorenson introduced me to DJ Jazzy Jeff and the Fresh Prince in elementary school.
When Erik Bass introduced me to The Roots in high school.
TONE: Are there any social or political issues that drive you and your music? If so, what are they and can you go into a bit of detail on why they are important to you?
HS: I can’t stand anti-black music. You know, music that’s all about killing black people. Selling drugs to black people. Treating black women like animals. It’s important because anti-black music creates anti-black people. They’ve gotten black people to make it, that’s the way they’ve gotten it to go over so well. It’s working like a charm too.
TONE: Word. I gotta say, I am a bit tired of anti-white Hip Hop. Ill probably never buy another Common album as long as I live. Him of all people. I thought he was a wiser then he turned out to be. The last album had some references to white culture that were such condescending generalizations that I was done for good.
TONE: What is your feeling on the current state of Hip Hop?
HS: I love hip hop. Dope hip hop is great. There’s plenty of that. Whack hip hop is whack. There’s plenty of that. It’s unfortunate that people often times use the word “hip hop,” to refer to “popularized hip hop,” driven by the “they’ve” i referred to in the last question. Hop on the internet and visit my top friends. Go check out Oddisee. Go check out Blu. Tanya Morgan. Hip hop is robust.
TONE: Oh, I hear some tidbits in the direction of a favorite topic of mine so, tell me what your definition of a sell out is.
HS: A sell out is somebody who does something whack ’cause they got paid to do it.
TONE: Who are you listening to these days and in general what kinds of music influences you and why?
HS: Lately I’ve been listening to tracks that 8th W1 sends to me as soon as he records them. He is brilliant. Also I’ve been listening to Common’s “Electric Circus,” which is a fantastic album and has now displaced “Like Water for Chocolate” as my all time favorite from him. The way society at large allowed thier perception of that album to be formed by the press is shameful.
TONE: I still don’t get Electric Circus, but I have mad friends who tell me I am sleeping on it. Still, I go back to listen again and I’m like “nah”. But, since it’s been a minute since I did that, I’ll have to give it another listen. But, Im still not buying another Common album!
TONE: What was Homeboy Sandman like when he was a little kid?
HS: Telling mad jokes. Kind of a ham.
TONE: How has being down with AOK been an influence on your music and person?
HS: In my life report card I get a “U” in “Works Well With Others.” I’m something of a doloist. Working with AOK has helped me develop some techniques for working better within a group dynamic. Plus being around a musical mastermind like P.CASSO just rubs off on you.
TONE: Tell me how you got down with AOK?
HS: Fresh asked me to be down. I was like “No, I run dolo.” He was like okay, we’re putting you down anyway. I’m glad he did.
TONE: LMAO! That’s classic. Fresh is a funny dude.
TONE: So, what kind of things are Homeboy Sandman fans saying about you? I assume you keep track of this kind of thing via Facebook and Myspace.
HS: Answering this question will make me feel pompous. Suffice it to say, they are happy about what they’re hearing. And the are very enthusiastic. Energetic. And renewed.
TONE: What kind of projects are coming up and what can fans expect?
HS: I’m working a lot with P.CASSO as “Dubble Dragons.” I’m working a lot with the 2 Hungry Bros. I’m working a lot with Sucio Smash and Highwater Music. I just make a bunch of stuff without knowing where it’s going to wind up and then figure it all out later. Fans can expect hip hop that’s never been done before. Sensational ish. Flows so dope you’d love ‘em evn if I had no lyrics, and lyrics so dope you’d love em even if I had no flows.
TONE: Gimme an idea what you’ve got in the chamber with regards to production? And you know I gotta shout out my homeboys Ben & Deep, The 2 Hungry Bros.
HS: 2 Hungry Bros are dope. They’ve got so many sounds. Hard ish. Pop ish. Gritty ish. Fluffy ish. All dope. Core Rhythm did a lot of production on my last album. He did “Lightning Bolt. Lightning Rod,” “Airwave Air Raid,” and “Opium.” Core is a genius. You listen to them three joints and they all sound crazy and they sound nothing alike. He doesn’t even have a “sound,” except for the fact that everything he does sounds dope. Jah C produced “Eyes on Vinyl,” which is a bonkers cut. He’s crazy ill. He produced another joint that’s not out yet that’s gonna feature me and the New Rap Order, which in addition to AOK is another crazy formidable NYC based brigade to watch for. My production well is abundant. I just did a record produced by Psycho Les of the Beatnuts, which was dope. The record I recorded before that was produced by my man Thieven Stephen. I’m bout to rock another ill R.Thentic beat. And I’m bout to rock an ill Ben Grymm beat. I’ll work with anybody who’s dope though. I look forward to rocking over some Von Pea beats, from Tanya Morgan. I rocked a couple Fresh Daily beats too. He’s a pretty ill producer on the low. But those are in the vaults for now. Then you got Prezzure who produced AOK’s “To My Homey (Remix).” I’m constantly writing. I can answer this question forever.
TONE: If you could rock over beats by three well known producers, who would it be. Just to be clear, I am talking about Primo type status.
1) DJ Jazzy Jeff
2) What ever happened to Shawn J. Period? Not J. Period the dope mix-tape DJ. Shawn J. Period who did “Universal Magnetic,” for Mos Def. I think he did “If You Could Huh” too, off the first Sound Bombing. Then he had some other dope ish with Pharoah Monch. His ish was 100%.
3) Madlib has some amazing stuff
4) So does Dilla. I didn’t go beyond the parameters of the question since Shawn J. Period is not well known. Unfortunately.
TONE: Crazy. Shawn J. Period is also one of my favorite producers and is responsible for one of my favorite tracks of all time, “Body Rock”.
TONE: If you could be anything other then who you are today, what would that be?
HS: The honest answer is that I can be anything other than who I am today and I prefer to be who I am anyway, but for the sake of not dodging the question I’ll say an astronaut ’cause it’d be cool to be up in space floating. That might get old quick though. There’s a bunch of painstaking ish that goes into being an astronaut that I don’t even know about too. I’d prolly switch back to being an emcee pretty fast.
Shouts to DJ Sosa and Champ Parle.