Things just ain’t the same for lyricists (and journalists). Carving out a niche in the age of endless recession, social media overdose and digital platforming is a daunting task. There are 5-headed monsters lurking at every turn, whether it be putting your art out there for mass consumption or walking to your neighborhood corner store for Skittles and Arizona Iced Tea.
After signing with Stones Throw, Homeboy Sandman has been riding a crest of critical smileys including a nod from the notoriously rap-unfriendly Rolling Stone. This is his second EP in quick succession following on the heels of late January’s Subject Matter. Cats got open to “The Miracle” and “Cops Get Scared Of Me” kept it moving, albeit in a more sublime direction. Chimera features more of these type nonpareils.
“Illuminati” requires utmost attention and really needs to be revisited a few times to appreciate. “Look Out” is the total package with a truncated Men Without Hats loop provided by Paul White and lyrics that are both self-deprecating (“male pattern baldness symbolic of my crown of thorns”) and clever (“paddle ball with the Padawans”). Most listeners don’t mind being challenged but without a beat to nod along to, what’s the point.
The Sandman also provides his fans with some stunning video components. Where “Mine All Mine” (off Subject Matter) was seemingly a bit of a family affair, “Hold Your Head” is a more introverted look at the artist’s struggle and psyche. The song is poignant and timely for many of us.
While he may not be photogenic enough to become a true blog darling, HS delivers product that will satisfy an equally fickle demographic, that of the hip-hop purist. With this charismatic effort, Sandman has proven to be the audio equivalent of creeper weed.
Not blessed with the most immediately engaging vocal quality, Sandman’s unorthodoxy will lose some of the uninitiated, but that may be a good thing. Buy this record and look forward to his full-length coming before the Mayan Apocalypse.