Following last year’s collaborative EP with Aesop Rock, Lice, New York wordsmith Homeboy Sandman returns with his third full length release on the LA label Stones Throw Records. With an impressive list of guests and producers, the album veers between frenetic tirades, funky grooves and laid back, soulful jams.
Opening with a Jonwayne production that features soft vocal samples and a slinky groove, Sandman introduces himself in a calm and collected fashion. It’s the kind of steady and assured tone of an artist who’s been around the block, who’s comfortable and confident with his talents. Almost in complete contrast, another early track, ‘Real New York’ is one of those more upbeat numbers that shows off Sandman’s capacity for spouting a relentless stream of consciousness.
Some of the more up-tempo tracks feature in the mid-section of the record, like the album’s lead single ‘Talking (Bleep)’, a playful jazz-funk production by Edan, reminiscent of Gil Scott Heron, with Sandman blowing off steam by giving the kinds of retorts you wish you had in your arsenal when faced with people talking shit at you in annoying every day situations.
Tracks like ‘Gumshoe’, ‘Keep it Real’ and ‘Earth, Wind, Fire, Water’ continue the 70s funk vibes with beats by RJD2, Nin Vibe and V-Man, and comprise a central movement of the LP. But it’s in the opening and closing movements of this release where Sandman really seems at home: those melodic and down-tempo tracks like ‘Seam by Seam’ that features production and instrumentation by Welsh three piece outfit Until the Ribbon Breaks. Here Sandman’s monotone takes on a more serious character while UTRB’s melodic and atmospheric chorus really lifts this track up as a stand out moment on the album.
Similarly on ‘God’, the rhyme and beat ratio is spot on, as Sandman offers his philosophical musings to a blissed out, zen-like beat by Paul White. The LP also hosts a fine selection of guest rappers and vocalists, including an outro featuring Kurious, Breeze Brewin and Aesop Rock, and ‘It’s Cold’ with the legendary Steve Arrington lending his voice to the choral refrain. The latter is another stand out track, however it sounds so unlike anything else on this LP it may have served better as a single release.