Homeboy Sandman - First Of a Living Breed

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"First Of A Living Breed" is another powerful entry into the Good Sun's discography. Convention be damned. Homeboy Sandman is still writing his own rules.

It’s impressive what Homeboy Sandman has compiled over the past half decade. He’s built a super solid reputation without conforming to the music industry’s rules of engagement. He’ll release songs with no hooks, deliver three verses in the short attention span era, rhyme about societal ills without pause, paying no mind to a radio format. In a sense, he’s an Original’s original. With his Stones Throw Records debut, First Of A Living Breed, The Good Sun continues to rebuke convention.

The Queens-native’s name is more known than ever and it’s showing in his rhymes. “Now you throwing salt ‘cause I’m exalted on a pedestal,” Sand kicks on the Oddisee-laced “Whatchu Want From Me?” - a roaming rebuttal to fraudulent politicians, relationship miscues, and the inevitable haters hating because he was “down to skip a meal or two.” On “Not Really,” he compares running alongside a river in Eastern Europe to running around the lake in Flushing Park, explaining how life after landing a deal isn’t all that different. As Sand sees it, “I still could be a bust / Same as it ever was.” This may be his Stones Throw debut, but HBS is no new jack. He’s already holstering two critically acclaimed LPs (Actual Factual Pterodactyl and The Good Sun) and a tsunami of goodwill from fans, friends, and rivals alike. So scathing bombast like “Eclipsed’s,” “Listen here, let me tell you something / All you suck!” smack like truth bombs since Sandy’s actually earned enough respect to flex condescension. In attitude, First Of A Living Breed reflects that.

Accompanying Homeboy Sandman’s evolved swagger are a plethora of perspective strapped stanzas. He’s as opinionated as ever - embracing didacticism without venturing into preachiness. The J57-produced “Illuminati” is the best example. Boy Sand spits from the position of the mysterious secret society, masterfully dissecting the macro and micro of population control:

“Create an enemy to hate / By then it won’t be tough / By then they’ll hate themselves so much they couldn’t wait / They’ll drown in booze that which they couldn’t take / And debt’ll make ‘em slaves / And then we cut the pay and lengthen days / Provide the drugs to medicate then cut the Medicaid...The sirs and madams will surmise / That it’s on us which they rely / They’ll never realize / That we rely on them / Any moment they decide, they can make it end / Instead just make some ends ‘cause life is hopeless / Times is hard / And keep them focused on religion so they’ll never look for God.”

Aside from sonic missteps like “For The Kids” (produced by 6th Sense, featuring Chace Infinite) - which sounds hokey despite it’s awesome message - and “Let’s Get ‘Em’s” (produced by rthentic RTNC) grating video game plops and blips that immediately incite a reach for the skip button, First Of A Living Breed is another powerful entry into the Good Sun’s discography. Convention be damned. Homeboy Sandman is still writing his own rules.

24 Comments

  • Okamifan1

    Hmm homeboy sandman never been a big fan of him I feel he is the Soulja boy of underground hip hop plus his flow is off and his voice never sits right with his beats. One star for a lackluster artist. (goes back to listening to KRS-One & Bliss n Eso)

  • Eric

    incredible poet. his words are valuable enough to suck up *some* mediocre production. most of the beats are pretty nice. wish he would do a project with a single producer. he could create something classic. NO ONE is spitting like him

  • Thugz Cry Too

    I remember first checking for Homeboy Sandman a few years ago, checking out a couple videos on youtube, and being unimpressed. Just recently, I checked out his two most recent albums, and was BLOWN AWAY. Definitely one of the illest spitters out, hands down. In the era of unlimited access to music, so much of the shit out there is barely worth ONE listen, let alone repeat listenings; NOT Sandman though. Great album.

  • Ken R

    Not every rapper is an emcee and not every emcee is a lyricist. One of the coolest cats. i got a few min of his time after the Denver Brother Ali show. Very generous with his time, he had a positive energy about him and a very smart man. I walked away even more impressed with him. If some of you dont get him I dont think hes to worried about it. This man is just on a different level

  • Big Boss

    Really surprised you didn't like For the Kids, one of my favorites on the album. Agree with the 4 stars though.

  • asherdust1@gmail.com

    Love this album....

  • c-los

    Illuminati is my favorite by far but j57's beats are dope and Spetsnaz beat is nasty

  • Jahmar

    I've had "Couple Bars" on repeat!!!!

  • JB21

    another amazing album by homeboy Sandman!

  • ben foden

    Homeboy Sandman is killing it without selling out in any way. Fast flow, good content, good energy.

  • fodder

    Yo, I really liked "For The Kids" for what it's worth... a lot. "Couple Bars" was the track was so-so

  • Vic

    @MMG Uncut -- i guess you didn't look to closely.

  • MMG Uncut

    Looks like a nerd rapper for white fat suburban kids.

  • Doubl Negative

    This LP stands out in the current rap climent like a hotdog stand in Islamabad. Really intelligent, interesting lyrics as per usual, but I don't think him being didactic should be used as a criticism nor should it frighten listeners. Rap's goldern-era ('88-'92) not only produced hip-hop's greatest, most colourful soundscape, but the lyrics in a lot of songs back then were thought-provoking and edifying because young Black teenagers were gaining knowledge about society that was missing in most school. These unforgettable years also corresponded with Bush senior's tenour in office. That shouldn't go un-noticed because hip-hop's vacuous, apolitical stance in recent years could be because we don't have a right-wing, conservative government in office to rebel against. If the Republicans regain power this November, it may spurn more rappers to more politically astute and less complacement. This album, no matter how great it is will not have same effect, unless everybody reading these pages supports it and other records like it.

  • Phil

    Dope album... Homeboy Sandman does it again... one of the best out there right now.

  • BrockHampshire

    The album is dope. Good review although my opinion differs on "For The Kids", that song is super dope. The beat is nuts and the message, with the way it's delivered, is crazy!

  • Jesse Abraham

    Goodness does not consist in greatness, but greatness in goodness. If ever there was an emcee who is both great and good, it is Sands.

  • yesss

    Easily one of the most talented rappers in the game. I did prefer The Good Sun, but I think all of his albums are worthy the money to buy.

  • alore

    Much needed music in a cluttered, contagious industry