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Homeboy Sandman - There In Spirit Music Album Reviews

Homeboy Sandman - There In Spirit Music Album Reviews
The Queens native brings a directness and precision to his latest album, an unassuming notebook of observations from a mature rapper with nothing left to prove.

Consistency and longevity have become the defining traits of Queens-native Homeboy Sandman, whose first EP turns 15 years old this month. Though nowhere near as verbose as his regular collaborator Aesop Rock, he’s almost as prolific, with a consistent stream of albums and mixtapes under his belt, as well as full-length collaborations with the likes of Blu and Quelle Chris. His latest album There In Spirit, produced entirely by Detroit beatsmith and emcee Illingsworth, is more condensed than his previous solo records: It plays like an unassuming notebook more than a full-fledged piece of art.

While other backpack rappers might have spiraled off into abstraction, Homeboy Sandman has found a bluntness in maturity, bringing a deadpan precision and defined sense of melody to his flow. On the anthemic “Stand Up,” each couplet and bar comes together like two hands shaking, interlocked tightly together. The words arrive fairly directly, without much dense metaphor or description, his voice endowing even the simplest of words with a charismatic weight. Though he’s capable of constructing dense bars and elaborate webs of words, there’s a restraint to There In Spirit that feels slightly more intimate, an acknowledgement that sometimes the most straightforward word is the most evocative.

Sandman’s more unguarded bars pair well with the enveloping beats of Detroit stalwart Illingsworth, who has previously appeared on records by Open Mike Eagle and R.A.P. Ferreira. Fittingly, his productions are somewhere between Dilla-ish soul chops and the cartoonish electronics of the L.A. beat scene. Illingsworth’s beats have an analog warmth, pulling samples of string tremolos, piano lines, and soothing vocals from soul and vintage pop, to most vivid effect on “Voices (alright).” But the production is not entirely a throwback, fused with electronic wonkiness, like the fluttering hi-hats and bassy synth lines on “Keep That Same Energy.” These are beats that sound like they were chopped up live on an MPC, unquantized and human even when flirting with more futuristic textures.

As he enters his 40s, Homeboy Sandman is more mindful and cautious, sounding like a rapper who has worked too hard to chase clout or confine himself to trends. With sarcastic defiance on album closer “Epiphany,” he declares a well-earned indifference to the opinions of critics, haters, or jealous peers: “These people do not have swag.” While he’s concerned about the world at large, he ultimately keeps a cool distance by recognizing that those who would try to make him feel insecure are deeply dissatisfied themselves.

The key to his longevity is moving at a consistent pace, rather than dashing to get the first word in, like a veteran fighter choosing his blows carefully instead of rushing in hot. He’s more than able to pick up the tempo when he wants to, but here, he focuses on forming a melodic chain of allegory and slice-of-life-imagery, stretching his muscles more than flexing them. Repetition becomes a pointed rhetorical device, forming the very structure of his songs. Album opener “Something Fly” hinges on his inflection of the word “something,” which he clips and twists into a multitude of meanings. The hook of “Stand Up”—“If you don’t stand up, they’ll never stop”—is repeated with a clipped ferocity more befitting a battle cry or mantra than a chorus.

Homeboy’s skepticism of social media hasn’t waned since 2018’s “Never Use The Internet Again.” He’s frequently at odds with digital life, and he succinctly depicts his relationship with technology on “The Only Constant”: “Got emojis from my godfolks/Couldn’t see em cuz I don’t have an iPhone.” He comes off like a rap game Monsieur Hulot, responding with droll confusion and bemusement to how the world has changed. Sandman’s relationship with his interiority parallels his relationship with technology. He’s not necessarily guarded, just protected. There’s a dose of real vulnerability to There In Spirit, frequently framed with sly humor as a disarming mechanism. Where his work has so often been focused on lyrical invention, the cathartic expression of a track like “Feels so Good to Cry” reveals a simpler purpose, allowing his writing to become more diaristic. There In Spirit shows an upside to staying in the game as you start to age: Once you’ve cut your teeth and proved your worth, you can relax a little bit, reflect, and breathe.

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About Wanni Arachchige Udara Madusanka Perera

Hey, I'm Perera! I will try to give you technology reviews(mobile,gadgets,smart watch & other technology things), Automobiles, News and entertainment for built up your knowledge.
Homeboy Sandman - There In Spirit Music Album Reviews Homeboy Sandman - There In Spirit Music Album Reviews Reviewed by Wanni Arachchige Udara Madusanka Perera on Friday, March 11, 2022 Rating: 5

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