Homeboy Sandman has been a constant favourite amongst the Southsiders for many years. Releasing numerous projects (this new one is his seventeenth!) throughout the years, he has been delivering quality, verbal dexterity for over a decade. We were lucky enough to chat with Boy Sand on the back of the release of his latest album Dusty, his first at his new home of Mello Music Group, and touched on Rap Genius, Pitchfork reviews, wearing kilts and Shetland Ponies. Read on to find out more.
I guess just before we start I want to get the important question out the way. Who is the number 1 shopping cart golfer in the world at the moment?
I’m the number 1 shopping cart golfer in the world. There’s nobody… You know I could post right after we phone of a shot crazier than the shots I posted. Like seriously, I don’t want to turn my whole IG [Instagram] into parking lot golf so I don’t post everything but you know, I’m distinguished.
So you going for the Olympics in Tokyo next year, yeah?
Yeah, yeah, yeah, yeah. You know, Shouts to Crazy Legs [legendary breakdancer], you know what I’m saying, was integral in getting breaking added to the Olympic line up. And maybe I’ll get shopping cart golf added one year.
Yeah. Perfect. Well, getting onto the topic at hand I suppose. So, you’ve got an new album out, which is Dusty. Your first one on Mello Music Group, and it’s entirely produced by Mono en Stereo, formally El RTNC. I don’t know if you want to talk about that a bit. I guess it’s you back again with, well his name is now Mono en Stereo…
Well, we’ve worked on some stuff.
You’ve obviously worked with him on Kool Herc: Fertile Crescent [EP released in 2013, on Stones Throw records] and various other tracks. What is it about him in particular that you keep coming back to?
We have a great chemistry but you know, like, I was talking to someone else the other day about it, if you listen to all the beats he’s done for me and all the beats he’s done for other people, like, his beats are amazing.
People talk about the canon of great beatmakers and, you know, I don’t know why some people are in that canon and others aren’t. But, asking me why I keep working with Mono en Stereo, I feel like is asking someone “Why do you keep working with DJ Premier?”
Yeah, yeah, yeah
“What are you working with J Dilla for?”
But, you know, the dude has crazy beats. I like to rap on hot beats so it’s a pretty easy choice time after time.
Of course. Yeah, I mean, I think, from what I’ve listened to, with his stuff, I feel like he definitely going with, at the moment, a lot of jazz fusion, a lot of 70’s funk and that. It’s quite different to a lot of other things. And I guess for you, in particular, it’s not super drum focused which allows your vocals to shine I think.
Right, right, right. Yeah, um, he’s actually been doing the no…I think the first song he and I released was called The Miracle. And, you know, were there drums on that? I don’t think there were any drums on that either. Maybe some very light drums. There was something, I don’t even know the difference between kick and snare.
But, you know we’ve done a lot of joints and on the original album. Sometimes on Dusty there’s some added percussion, like there’s some percussion added on Yes Iyah, you know Andrew Esposito played some drums, some triangle, you know there’s some added light percussion to Live and Breathe. There’s some extra stuff added but yeah he captures a real warm sample feel.
Yeah, I mean the drums are still present but its just not that boom bap, in your face drums.
I think that the sample, the music, the melody is highlighted and then as I say it allows your vocals to come to the fore.
And one thing I noticed with this one compared to your previous releases on Stones Throw, you haven’t released a Dusty Out Now track did you?
Yeah I haven’t done that.
Is that a conscious thing or just…
Yeah that was…that was fun when I was doing it but, you know, it feels like the time…I don’t know if I’m going to do any more of those Out Now tracks. That might have been just a Stones Throw thing.
Yeah. Fair enough. Okay, moving on I guess. And it is obviously about journalism and this new album in particular. You talked out about, with Pitchfork, that negative review that you got. I guess the issue now-a-days is that everyone has an opinion, it’s just that obviously a lot easier for everyone to voice theirs. Do you want to just talk a bit about your thoughts on journalism, in particular online?
I agree with you. Everyone has a right to their opinion, you know what I’m saying. I was open in the tweet [calling out the negative review]. Pitchfork appears to me to be at the pinnacle of what is regarded as independent music…You know, I’ve seen reviews come out since then that’s just paraphrasing the Pitchfork review. You know what I mean like, “Oh this is what I’m supposed to think about this”. You know, young reviewers on their site, or young or old whatever, like, “This is what I’m supposed to think about that record”. It’s influential. And I realise Pitchfork is influential and I recognise that dude that gave that review, you know, that’s why I said “if you feel that way, respect”. If you don’t feel that way… I obviously don’t feel that way. With this Dusty record, I love it. I think it should get a 9.8, possibly a 10. You know what I’m saying?
And I appreciate the people that agree with me on that – the people that don’t? I think that…I know the reason it was important to share that is just to, you know, kind of, remind people that they are free to make their own decisions about the album. Remind people okay, we got a bad review. Obviously, I’m very much preaching very much to the choir tweeting it on my twitter, with my followers, whatever. But, I want to remind people…we’re living in the era where people don’t go see movies if the movie’s got bad reviews, where people don’t listen to records when… I’m very thankful for the excellent reviews. There are probably some people that will listen to the album because of the bad review, you know? I’m sure it all works out, I mean I know it all works out. But, I hope that people are encouraged to listen to stuff for themselves, be it my stuff or other people’s stuff. I definitely take note of the trend of things being written off. Like nobody saw, Men in Black, the new joint with Thor and the other…nobody saw it ’cause it came out and got killed, so nobody saw it and everyone’s like: “oh it was terrible”. Nobody saw it though. I saw Anchorman 2 with my boy and he was like “oh man its terrible”. And it was mad funny. But he was ashamed to tell me he liked it because it got panned by critics. Like “Yo, you can think this is cool”. So that’s just what I’m talking about with that. Everyone can be a critic. I wouldn’t mind if everyone was a critic actually, it’s just that everyone isn’t a critic. Only critics are critics and everybody else listens. I would prefer if everybody was a critic.
So, it’s all or nothing I guess. The takeaway from that from what I’m hearing is, basically, make up your own mind? I think that’s definitely something we should all be doing, listen to it yourself and form your own opinions.
On a similar topic, we recently spoke with billy woods and Elucid when they were in Glasgow [Check that out Here] and it was on the topic of Rap Genius. I think billy woods exact words were “Man, Fuck Rap Genius!”
I think his main grievance was just the misinterpretation and also just incorrect transcribing in the first place. I know you have voiced similar opinions in the past.
It’s a disrespect. It’s a disrespect that you can put in Homeboy Sandman and a song [into a web search] and have that site pull up. It’s a disrespect to me, who put hours and time and effort, and on the first page, one of the first things that shows up for someone looking for the lyrics is something completely wrong. That’s what a lot of these sites are about. Trying to make it look like there’s something going on, when nothing’s going on. That way, when something’s going on, you can say “oh there’s too much going on”. You know what I’m saying, like, rap is a big joke. billy woods ain’t no joke. Elucid ain’t no joke and Homeboy Sandman ain’t no joke. But if you can make it look like jokes are to be taken seriously then you can make it look like things that are to be taken seriously are a little too serious. And that’s what that site is about. And that’s what a lot of things are about.
And you know it ain’t hard to see this stuff. It ain’t hard to see. All you gotta do is read between the lines. These dudes are not speaking gibberish. I could transcribe….If I sat down and wanted to spend the time…The point is, don’t disrespect, you know what I mean. And they don’t care about that. I’ve spent 10 hours on Rap Genius just trying to correct lyrics just ’cause it drives me crazy everyone getting them wrong. I’ve never got compensation for that. Cats are not getting paid from rap genius. The only people getting their stuff, you know, people on majors, people with the connections publishing is tied to. People that are tied to Rap Genius in a business capacity.
[People that] have the Rap Genius thing pop up on Spotify, you know with the correct lyrics, that was looked over. And it’s a useful thing for them because its beneficial to the people that are eating off them, that are getting paid off them. Rap Genius, I wouldn’t mind if it disappeared tomorrow.
My lyrics are available on my album. Plus, you can listen to them with your ears. But I know, my baby love is from Sweden, so she was telling me, a lot of people don’t speak English like that, they go to Rap Genius to learn that way. I think its unfortunate that people from Europe are going [to Rap Genius] to try to understand my lyrics…Go to homeboysandman.com, or buy the album, the lyrics are on the album.
I think the intention is there but fulfilling that to the desired outcome is not, obviously as you say, where it should be.
Let me tell you something, and this is a true story that I’ve never even told to nobody before. And I’ma give you this, ’cause I gotta go soon so I’m going to give you this. When Rap Genius first opened up, when it first started, there were three interviews done by cats in New York, and I knew the camera crew, and one of the dudes was my boy, and they interviewed about one of my verses. And it was me and two other acts that they interviewed. This was many, many years ago. The whole layout was different, they hadn’t even branded they way they is now. It wasn’t Genius, it was Rap Genius, whatever. My interview never came out, my interview got shelved, the other two came out. I’m able to go to the dude, “Why did my interview get shelved? What’s up with that? I spent time. We filmed. It was fly. It was a fly segment”. The dude told me in no uncertain terms “Yo, it was too good. We couldn’t have your joint up and then put the other joints up. We would make it look like these dudes are not Rap Genius’. And you’re a rap genius”. This is a true story. The dude was like “We can’t have you on there proper and correct. Because if you’re on there proper and correct, it’s going to make goo-goo ga-ga, not mean shit but goo-goo ga-ga.” I’ve never told that story before, but that’s a true story.
Yeah. It speaks volumes.
And that’s disrespect. So, I’ve been knocked down by Rap Genius. But you know the dude, Shawn Serato [one of rap Genius’ editors], one time I was kind of rude to him, I apologised to him after that, I didn’t mean to be rude to him.
Right, moving onto lighter topics. You’ve got on the back of this, you’ve got your East Coast tour coming up. With billy woods and Elucid as well as Quelle Chris.
So that’s down the East cost of America and I know you’re looking at Europe, is it March next year, is it?
Yeah I’m looking at Europe in March yo.
But nothings been firmed up yet, is that still kind of in the works?
Yeah, it’s still in the works. I did receive some dates we’re not ready to announce yet and I don’t know that we’ve started getting deposits in so…you know everything’s still up in the air but its looking pretty probable that I’m going to be in Europe in March.
Sure. Look forward to seeing that if I can get along to it.
Just on the topic of Scotland…
Scotland, yeah. When we were in Scotland we went to…[speaking to girlfriend in backround] What was it “Arthur’s thing”?
We went to Arthur’s seat and we had a blast.
I was just going to mention a couple of lyrics you mention Scotland. Is there any significance behind these or was it just a good rhyme or something else?
Way back on The Good Sun on Table Cloth;
“Air me on delay, speedy Gonzales/ I’m the modern day William Wallace”.
Oh yeah, word to that. I love Braveheart, that’s a fly movie. People always say “it ain’t accurate” but I always say “of course it ain’t accurate, it’s a movie!”
Yeah. You don’t take it at face value, do you?
[laughing] It’s a movie yo!
But even more recently with Veins you had on Bamboo [produced by Mono en Stero/El RTNC] saying; “plus I got a goddess I protect from getting hurt or killed/ not only that but if I was Scottish, I would probably rock a kilt “
Oh yeah. Word up. Kilts are fly.
So have you ever worn a kilt before?
I never wore a kilt. But if I was from Scotland, I would probably rock a kilt.
You can wear one if you’re American you know…!
[laughs] I don’t have one, I mean they don’t really sell them out here. If I’m out there, if someone laces me up with a kilt I’ll rock it.
We’ll get you rented one, yeah. Sure.
Yeah, I’ll rock it.
Awesome. And the final one I noticed which is a sort of tentative one is off of A’s, J’s and L’s on Veins as well; “Some people ask me why they call me homie/the reason is that while you listening you get to know me/ Pick a note that you can ride on over when you lonely/ Way I came up, though was ugly/ Got so hungry I could eat a Shetland Pony”
Oh snap! I didn’t even realise Shetland Ponies was even from Scotland. I was just trying to play on “I was so hungry I could eat a horse”. But I guess Shetland Ponies are from Scotland?
Well, the Shetlands are Islands way up north. Way, Way up. So I think the reason they are kind of small is just cause it’s a pretty windy and desolate area up that way.
So, that’s the three I could come up with but yeah…
Well, listen, as you can see, I got a big Scottish influence in my lyrics.
I wanted to touch on food for a minute. How do you find travelling while still eating well and healthily? I mean, I travel a bit with work and while it’s a great opportunity to experience and try lots of different things it’s also difficult to maintain a schedule and harder to eat as you would at home.
In the US I stop at Whole Foods in every city. My US tours are like Whole Foods tours. Then I buy mad fruits and nuts and healthy type food enough to last that whole day. In Europe, it’s becoming more and more easy to find bio and ecologisk and organic stores too plus there’s plenty of healthy vegan spots. I don’t really find it super challenging. Same goes for where I’ve been in Asia and Australia and New Zealand. I hope to get to South America and Africa soon and hope it’ll be the same there too.
Any travel eating tips then?
My travel eating tip is keep good food on you in case you’re in a place where you can’t find any.
What else has Homeboy Sandman got on the horizon? I know you recently said you are working with someone you haven’t before. Can we have anymore details on that or is that still top secret? Is this a producer or MC and can we expect a full length LP or EP?
That’s all top secret. My album came out less than 2 weeks ago. It’s kind of bugged to be getting asked what’s on the horizon. What should be on the horizon is you listening to the album more. Trust me it’s good for you.
What about Lice 4 with Aesop? I’ve come up with a pending title, Lust 4 Lice?
Lust 4 Lice is an amazing title.
Here at Southsiders, we like to finish all our interviews with a question to put the interviewee on the spot and help settle ongoing debate within the group. At the current time this is which Outkast album between ATLiens or Aquemini is the better of the two and why?
I prefer Aquemini because of Return of the Gangsta and Spottieottie and Liberation and Chonkyfire but love Wheelz of Steel and Elevators and Jazzy Belle too. But I personally find Aquemini a bit more experimental which I’m into particularly because of how well everything was executed
Perfect. That’s cool. Thanks for your time anyway. We’ll hopefully see you in Scotland
Thanks so much. Thanks for promoting the show…well, not the show since it hasn’t been announced but I hope to see you in March.
Alright. Cheers for that.
Dusty is out now on Mello Music Group. Go out and get it but most importantly, form your own opinion of it.