Homeboy Sandman is a spiraling autumn of light from Queens, a rapper whose flow at once sounds like a metaphysical brain drain and a physically fit slice of verbal gymnastics. With a career built on battle competitions, hosting nights at the Nuyorican Poets Café and some guerilla F train flyering, he’s finally signed to Stones Throw records. There, he dropped the six-song Subject:Matter EP, which matches the tirelessly bent label’s affinity for woozy beats and uniquely blurry rapping. Opening track “The Miracle” is a three-minute chorus-less wonder, though it doesn’t suffer from any lack of melody as Sandman’s rubbery flow follows the musical peaks and valleys with aplomb.
What is “The Miracle” about?
“The Miracle” is all about my creative process and the fact that it’s magical and spiritual; and there’s parts of it that I can’t even explain which God is completely responsible for; and the depths to which I submerge myself in my art; and the method to the madness which manifests itself infinite ways… It was inspired by my difficulty to express myself conversationally regarding the way that I create. I rhyme considerably better than I talk. And the rhythm switches and the pitch switches and the cadence switches all signify the odyssey that is creating a cut.
What about the beat?
The beat on this song was produced by rthentic RTNC. The first time I heard it, it whisked me away on some mystical interstellar voyage. So many changes and switchups and so much depth and the ambiance is crazy I knew I had to freak it on something transformative something about sorcery. The beat is definitely Academy Award-winning Kubrick soundtrack status.
Your cover art features a huge manifesto where you boast that the record has “content no one has ever rapped about before in the history of rap music. Unfortunately not a difficult thing to do.” Why did you decide to lead with this?
Shouts to Jeff Jank on the cover design. Subject:Matter being my first Stones Throw release, I had an opportunity to talk a nice big game and let people listen to the EP to see if I could back it up. I’m all for guaranteeing victory as long as you win afterwards. Go G-men.
What’s the most memorable show you’ve played in New York?
That would have to be a tie between my album release show for The Good Sun, June 1 at S.O.B.’s, where 98% of the actual true and living NYC street-level hip-hop scene was in the house and we completely got once-in-a-lifetime busy. There might be like two or three cats in NYC that aren’t household names across the globe that really truthfully get busy that weren’t there, but there ain’t 10. That and when I had the honor of rocking one of the Roots jams at Highline Ballroom, The Roots being my favorite crew of all time and Black Thought being my favorite MC without whom I wouldn’t be doing this. Having him ad lib my verse while The Roots band was backing me was definition surreal and something I will never forget.
What’s your favorite place to eat in Queens?
I gotta say Apt. 5D where moms and pops still reside and get down. But Elmhurst Famous Pizzeria on Broadway definitely holds it down too.