Homeboy Sandman Thinks The “Conscious Rap” Label Is Racist


Queens native MC Homeboy Sandman is about as eccentric and inviting as a Stones Throw signee can possibly be. His music filters social commentary and seemingly mundane everyday observations through a unique flow and a rolodex of off-kilter producers (Oddisee, Jonwayne, Knxwledge, etc.) to create rap music that’s lighter than air yet grounded in some form of reality.

Sandman recently sat down with us to talk about his upcoming show at the Blue Note Jazz Club in New York City this coming Saturday (October 24), but our conversation drifted in a few other directions as well. He sounded off about new projects coming out in 2016 (and possibly one slated for release before 2015 is out), how much Black lives really matter, and how he and his crew’s tendency toward crazy nicknames led him to the name Homeboy Sandman.

On “conscious” rap:

“I think it’s used in a racist way. Look at a term like “conscious.” Look at a term like “underground”…I don’t see no one calling Macklemore a conscious MC…because white people are allowed to be however they wanna be.”

On the state of rap:

“There’s plenty of hip-hop out there for me to love…there’s all types of ill records comin’ out, so I’m happy. I love ill records. I’m not gonna allow rap to be defined for me…I think it’s kind of a misnomer for something that isn’t ill to be considered hip-hop. That’s like sitting down being called gymnastics to me. Sitting down became gymnastics when somebody got up and flipped.”

On a new album:

“I’m working right now on my next record. I’ve talked a lot about how I’ve put records together in the past, which has been ‘I did 100 records in a year, let’s pick the top,’ or not even the top, but pick the ones that fit together to make a certain point or provide a certain type of vibe. Even though I just sent [Peanut Butter] Wolf like 65 joints, and we’re goin’ over those, but at the same time, I’m actually working on a record for the first time…And don’t be surprised if there’s something a little special that comes out before this year’s over, something special that’s a little unorthodox. But then I expect in the first half of 2016 that there should be a full record released. It’s gonna be worth the wait, yo.”

On his name:

“I ran with my homeboys, and we called ourselves The Quadrant. We was a real tight-knit crew…We always used to come up with different names for ourselves. Remember when the Wu [Tang Clan] came out with all those nicknames? Shouts to the Wu, but we pre-dated a team trying to have mad nicknames…We had dog-tags made up for everybody, and they would have our crew name…I had a whole bunch of other ones, but when I came to Homeboy Sandman, that was just it. I stopped coming up with names. It was my favorite name ever.”

On Black Lives Matter:

“Black lives matter when they’re incarcerated. Black lives matter in terms of education. Black lives definitely matter…but it seems that Black lives only matter when they’re completely gone. So they’re saying do whatever you want to Black people; lock ’em up, clown ’em here, clown ’em there, but don’t actually kill them, which is the same as slavery…you can herb them all day, and that’s what I’m not into. I definitely support everybody lookin’ to keep cats from gettin’ killed and from gettin’ hurt, ya know?

There’s all types of societies, fromm Native Americans to samurai, even this country was founded on ‘Give me liberty or give me death!’ There have been all different kinds of cultures and societies that have said it’s worse to get herbed than to die, because you can live without getting herbed. It is possible to live without getting herbed, but it’s not possible to not die, so what’s a worse fate? To have your life taken away from you and not being able to live it, or to move on to the next round?”

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