It’s not often that you can say you heard someone in music that doesn’t remind you of anyone else. Homeboy Sandman is one of those acts. His off-kilter delivery and poly-rhythmic flows, along with his varied subject matter make the former school teacher standout from a crowded field so it’s only fitting that he name his latest work Subject MatterSandman skips the intro and the build on the opening track “Middle” rhyming as soon as the beat starts. The beat is subtle, constantly refreshed with ambient Stevie Wonder type noises and intermittent piano work. There is no room for a chorus and the Sanman wastes no bars. One of my few criticisms with Homeboy Sandman was his vocal inflection or lack thereof. He addresses that with many shifts in mood and expression.
“Mine All Mine” continues the assualt with a higher energy production and an all-out lyrical assault Here’s the first 20 seconds:
My lyrics heavy, my shit corduroy size large and my sock drawer’s like a Yeti/ My roots underground like veggies, my sound crack crowns from the sound bites, sounds so edgy/ Beneath is boxers so my dick can breathe my white seats don’t wedgie/ My TV is Heathcliff and Claire, for skin care I still use Keri horned born way before Blackberries
Note how he pivots but maintains connectivity like a swordsman with machine-like efficiency.
The tape slows down withthe beautifully string-driven “Unforgettable.” The beat is syrupy sweet with an organic bassline and piano plunks. The strings bind the song and control the pace like a puppet master. Sandman is lovestruck andtrapped by the memory of that good pussy that got away. The song sways back and forth with verses separated by the singing of one word: “unforgettable.” He tells his story with a resigned exasperation, knowing he can’t get her off his mind. Best. Pussywhipped. Song. Ever.
He switches lanes with the high-speed “Sweet Emotion (Orchard Beach).” The uptempo grove isn’t as layered as the previous production on the album and it’s the first instance of anything resembling a hook. It’s not as tightly constructed as its predecessors but it’s a well-placed energy boost.
Layered connectivity returns on the brilliant canned soup which features a well thought out hook and tells tales of how people flock to causes for bullshit reasons and weaves in a story about the aftermath of recent disaster and how people attached themselves for recognition while others genuinely tried to make a difference. Well done and intricately designed without over preachiness.
The album closes out on “Soap,” which continues a display of Sandman’s writing ability and song construction. He ties numerous allegories to the title and methodically maintains his rhythem and delivery without the “I’m smarter than you” vibe that can detract from songs like this.
This six song EP is his Stone’s Throw debut, stepping up the indie ladder. Subject Matter is a work that is lyrically masterful, well-plotted and genuine in feel. It’s the perfect jumping point to get down with the Sandman. Whatever minor points it lacks in explosiveness and drama are compensated for in fluidity, consistency and execution.
Out of 5
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