Homeboy Sandman is one of the most celebrated and respected artists to emerge from the New York underground in the last decade. While the Stones Throw-signed Queens-native has spent the past few weeks on the road with Rhymesayers’ Brother Ali, he returns to NYC tonight for their tour’s stop at the Bowery Ballroom. We spoke to Sandman about life on the road, his newly released First of a Living Breed album, as well as plans for tonight’s big return.
How’s the tour going?
Tour’s going fantastic, I’m having a ball. Ali’s a cool, cool, cool ass brother, and his whole band is mad cool. His tour manager, Paul, was making sure we’re real comfy everywhere we go. I get to spend a lot of quality time with [Sandman’s DJ] Sosa driving around the country. I can’t believe we’re already almost back in New York. We’ve really had packed rooms.
Have you been to many new spots on this tour?
Yeah, yeah. The venue we played [Tuesday, at Cat’s Cradle in North Carolina]’s the first time we’re at a venue we’ve played before. We’ve had some good Homeboy Sandman turnouts in the places we’ve gone, and Brother Ali’s fanbase is mad dense, all over the place. He’s really doing me a huge look.
Have you noticed any differences between Ali’s audience and the crowds from your previous tours?
Yeah, I do have to say, this fan base in particular because of the honesty, integrity, responsibility and maturity in Ali’s work, are open minded people. They’re like “We may not know who this shit is, but we’re gonna listen to him and if he’s dope, we’re gonna rock with him.” They’re people who rock with people because they respect things about the musician. They’re not fans of celebrities or fans of fame. It is due a lot in Ali’s part to the type of music [he] makes that his crowd is open-minded and welcoming.
Were there any places you were surprised by the high concentration of Sandman fans?
Fort Lauderdale was pretty strange. I’ve never been out there at all, and it was cool to see people there who really knew my stuff. One dude yelled for me to do “Gun Control,” which was never even released on anything. The thing about it is, after most shows, I love to chill by the merch and build with the fans, so that was really cool having all those cats come up to me.
Your new album, First of a Living Breed, was actually released while you were on tour. Where were you when it dropped?
We started selling it at midnight, the 17th, in Dallas. They were the first to get their hands on it. Texas was down. In Austin, my voice was really shoddy. I wasn’t used to the back-to-back-to-back shows so by the time we got to Austin I was losing my voice. So many people came up to me after the show and said it was great that I gave them my all. They’re very appreciative of heart. I really had a great time in Texas.
So, thus far, this tour’s been a positive experience?
It’s been amazing man, such a blessing to meet people from all over. One thing I’ll say too is Rhymesayers has touring on smash. Rhymesayers has put in so much work into going into markets where other people don’t go to do hip-hop and establishing a fan base out there. Being on this tour has given me the opportunity to tap into people who wouldn’t know people unless they saw them live.
Tonight, you have the big homecoming show in New York City.
Can’t wait, man! I love touring, but I can’t wait to be home.
Do you have anything special planned for the New York stop?
Absolutely. I’ve had a template for my set in all these different places, but in New York I’m deviating from it completely. I know there’s going to be more people familiar with me than anywhere else, so I’m doing representation from every single project I put out, and ending heavy with new stuff from First of a Living Breed. I’m gonna take cats on a trip down memory lane into the future.