By Daniel Paiz
Initially frustrating is not a phrase that comes to mind when writing an interview article, but it’s better than it sounds. When you get into a groove occasionally you become too formulaic. Homeboy Sandman pushed me to realize that very quickly, which I honestly appreciate. The following interview is an excerpt of our conversation about his music and a few other things. Homeboy Sandman is on a mission to learn as much as possible about himself and the world around us.
This Queens emcee has put out a lot of albums, each one capturing a particular timeframe of his life. Growing and learning and reflecting is a life journey. Sometimes, your surroundings might change into a new time period; those that were here are go extinct, while a whole new kind of individual replaces them. That led me to dig into the first new single I heard off of this new album, aptly named Extinction.
Cypher Sessions (CS): So I was listening to your new single [Extinction] that’s out the other day, and I’m curious who the “cool people” are that are going extinct in Extinction?
Homeboy Sandman (HS): Ah word up, okay I can speak a little on that. On the verses of that record I’m talking about a bunch of stuff that I find compellingly bothersome. Like valuing, you know I talk about:
A talent crazy as Aretha Franklin is an unknown because she doesn’t have the look–Extinction, Homeboy Sandman
Valuing a look over a musical talent, you know what I mean. If we’re talking about modeling or something like that, that’s one thing. But if we’re talking about singing, or if we’re talking about is it better to be talented or famous, what is success.
Another part of success today comes in the form of social media. While these sites are everywhere, it doesn’t mean you have to measure your success or talent based on how many followers you might or might not have. Homeboy Sandman recently left social media due to how sometimes the numbers helped, while other times they didn’t. The “corniness” of how social media leads an artist to feast or famine when it comes to opportunity is one too many of us still follow on the daily; this, in part, is what’s leading to the extinction of the “cool people.”
HS: It was very corny in either direction. If I’m going to be a rhymer and a musician based off my art, I’m gonna let my art speak for itself. So when I’m talking about “cool”, I’m talking about reality, I’m talking about what’s really important, I’m talking about real value. I’m not talking about illusion, inauthentic, posturing, I’m not talking about that.
Artistically I’m talking about innovation, originality… when I say are there any cool people still alive, I hear too many records that sound the same but aren’t from the same person. Yo if I walk down the street, is everybody playing the same artists? I’m not familiar with these artists. But is everybody just playing the same artists all the time, because that’s what it sound like a lot of the time.
Are there any cool people who want to make authentic art, even if that is not what is what’s rationally the way to become famous?
Figuring out which monster you might be feeding
There are many ways in which we feed ourselves, both in good and bad ways. For Homeboy Sandman, we make that conscious decision on the regular; therefore, we also have to come to terms with doing so and decide if that’s the direction one wants to keep going. This is part of the inspiration of Sandman’s newest album title, Don’t Feed The Monster.
CS: I see your album’s coming out this week (October 16th) called Don’t Feed The Monster, and I’m debating. I wonder which monster we are not supposed to be feeding, because it sounds like it could be a lot of different monsters.
HS: I’m talking about the monster of the self. It’s a fear monster, it’s a lust monster, it’s a doubt monster. It’s a many headed monster. There are many different ways to feed the monster without self control, or self control can starve the monster. You can feed the monster with fear, you can starve the monster with faith. You can feed the monster with pride, with ego, you can starve the monster with humility…
You see the artwork, I have “Don’t Feed The Monster” written across my head, and the monster’s inside my head and I want to starve the monster.
Sandman’s creativity also expands due to the breadth of his subject matter. Never one to shy away from a topic not often discussed by other rappers, this emcee does not allow himself to zero in on one topic and stay there. Growth is not only outside of life on the mic but also when putting in the work on it.
CS: It feels like you’re open to rapping about anything, and a lot of rappers might have the goal to do so but they don’t end up doing it. Why do you think you’re so open to rapping about anything and other rappers aren’t?
HS: For me, the art that I am blessed to be involved in creating, is part of my synthesis of reality, it’s part of my learning, it’s part of my self-introspection. It’s part of my growing, part of my evolution. It isn’t anything that lends itself to redundancy, it isn’t anything that lends itself to doing the same thing all the time.
As a person, as a manifestation of God on this planet, I want to learn, I want to grow, I want to seek, I want to experiment. I need novelty, I need adventure, I need the introduction of new stimulus all the time. It’s just integral to my vitality as a person, as an artist.
To cover as much ground as I can, you know. I know I do have a wide variety of subject matter in my art, and that’s only going to grow, hopefully. That’s only going to grow because hopefully I’m only going to grow.
Evolving oneself beyond accolades
Learning and growing oneself is a lifelong journey. Deciding how to express yourself and use your time and talent in a useful way is your choice. Reflection is clearly a part of growth for Homeboy Sandman, although one particular way of doing so isn’t a part of his plans in the near future.
CS: It sounds like growth and forward motion are the path that you’re on right now, and I would guess that it might include some reflection-
HS: -lots of reflection.
CS: Does that reflection dive into following up on past albums, to make sequels, or…?
HS: It’s interesting because I’ve never done a sequel to an album like that. It’s a difficult thing to visualize, because the songs that I write and release at a certain time, it’s a cross section of me at a certain time. I feel like that cross section is going to be different than the other cross sections.
I wouldn’t be surprised at all if I never do a sequel record of any sort-Homeboy Sandman
CS: It seems like a lot of artists are concerned with legacy, and you aren’t concerned with that at all, which is refreshing, would that be an accurate observation or…?
HS: I admit to you that I have not always talked this way, but where I’m at right now is the temporary things like if somebody thinks I’m cool or not; those are not my focus.