Homeboy Sandman tapped into a unique energy, and parlayed the vibe into a rap career. The Stones Throw MC, with his penchant for haphazard deliveries and a strong command of rhythm, continues making headway in the indie and underground circles with his latest effort, Kindness for Weakness. Running just over 36 minutes, it’s a quick, concise listen, with everything the Alternative Hip Hop-listening crowd could ask for.
“Kindness” is the main topic of discussion; at the root of every up and down and twist and turn, manifested in a myriad of different ways: for his girlfriend (“Seam by Seam”) the only one who really knows the vulnerable Homeboy Sandman. Or the misguided fans and general populous (“Talking (Bleep)”) who are constantly rewarded with his good manners, unaware of their own ignorance. It ain’t all roses, but the message is plain as day: we should all strive to be better people.
Homeboy has a diverse lyrical acumen. “Heart Sings” and “Eyes” start the album off with stocky half-time verses, before picking up and going double-time on “Real New York.” His indifference to a preferred tempo is endearing because it showcases his flowing abilities. “Seam by Seam” is hypnotically downtempo with chilled out production from Until The Ribbon Breaks, and Homeboy flowing fast with run-on bars. Here, kindness is his hesitance to pursue a female subject confidently: “Every now and then she lighten up / But then I do some shit I didn’t even mean to do that make her tighten up / Like texting her too early in the morning while she still asleep / She asked me not to in a way that wasn’t too sweet.” Between the substance and the skill in his rhymes, the lyrics are consistently superb, with more to offer beneath the surface.
The producers enlisted for Kindness for Weakness are a ragtag dream team. Jonwayne (“Heart Sings”), Large Professor (“It’s Cold”) and Edan (“Talking (Bleep)”) among many others, establish a cohesive vibe that balances minimalistic chilled out music, with other more complex, technically sound tracks (“Earth, Wind, Fire, Water”). Elsewhere, RJD2 adds a little extra flair with “Gumshoe,” a two-minute instrumental right smack in the middle, while Paul White provides “Sly Fox” and “God” in unison. The spirit of collaboration is palpable throughout, and speaks to the good nature amongst friends and creative partners. As a result, the album is elevated by the production’s sonic uniformity.
Kindness for Weakness is a strong album with a permeating message. The whole vibe is original, and exquisite minimalist production tips the scales, in tow with strong lyricism. Homeboy Sandman’s abilities as a MC, paired with a strong supporting cast of guest MCs and producers, execute accordingly without being repetitive. Best of all, he offers up a valuable life lesson: be kind always. The album’s biggest strength is the number of wells from which it draws inspiration. Kindness is more than just good manners; it’s a modus operandi.