EXCLUSIVE RAPPER INTERVIEW: Homeboy Sandman on Getting Signed to Stones Throw
A few weeks ago I received the best damn music news I’ve heard since finding out that Bob Dylan’s grandson got signed to Young Money (real talk). I don’t care much about the business side of boom bap anymore, but this bombshell was loud enough to divert my attention from everything I hate about contemporary hip-hop. This time the good guy emerged on top, and got signed to one of the last imprints that really matters.
As of right now Queens laureate Boy Sand is officially rocking with the best at Stones Throw, which, for those who don’t know, is the unanimous label preference of both genuinely obsessed vinyl-philes, and the worst kind of indie poseurs who, 20 years ago, were probably telling people how much they liked that rapper Brand Nubian. Nevertheless, it’s that underground ubiquity that makes Stones Throw so special – that along with unrivaled spontaneity.
Stones Throw doesn’t just run around signing any hot shit of the moment. In fact their general strategy has been the opposite, as its subsidiary labels go so far as to awaken forgotten acts that have been dormant for decades. From marquee names like DOOM and Madlib, to r&b re-inventors Aloe Blacc and Dam-Funk, to bedroom beat tweaker James Pants, the message is that Stones Throw cares more about music than it does about business and image.
I’ve been a major fan of Boy Sand since first checking him live several years ago in New York (click the link – my predictions were right!!!). And while I’ve been mesmerized by his writing, live performance talent, and work ethic, I wasn’t even sure that fringe cats were ready for him. “They’re too stupid,” I told myself, high on Bill Maher ego-mania.”This guy’s ‘parlance is what would be formed if Transformers and phonics could fornicate.’ Who besides me would appreciate that? He reads Dostoyevsky!!!”
Luckily I was wrong. As it turns out there still is a market for adventure and intellect, wit and originality. Boy Sand has succeeded on skill, and on the idea that anyone who hears him needs to hear more – immediately. He’s the ultimate re-wind MC, sure to put many-a-tapedeck out of business should he ever get a time machine. We spoke to him about this major leap in his career, and about how much closer homeboy is to world domination.
Why does Homeboy Sandman need a label? I don’t NEED anything, but God, but my entire career I’ve been forming allegiances with like minded individuals, be they emcees, promoters, producers, visual artists, whoever. It’s like my boy I Am Many says: Strength in Numbers. So the opportunity to form alliance with an entire like minded camp, a camp proven for creative integrity, consistency, and authenticity, is major blessing.
Stones Throw or anyone else, was it difficult for you – as a proudly independent artist – to sign up with any label? I’m an independent man. I do what I believe is right. I won’t be imposed on. People think of signing with a label as giving that all up, and it seems like for a lot of artists it is. But for me, it wasn’t. So it wasn’t difficult at all. Stones Throw is not your run of the mill label. They are not in the business of creating artists. They are in the business of finding them. So I’m still proudly independent, and proudly Stones Throw.
When did you first get an inkling that Wolf was looking at you as a potential artist? At the time what was your impression of Stones Throw? It’s been either almost a year, or almost a year and a half, since I initially starting talking to Wolf. At first the discussion was regarding collaboration of some sort, but I had just begun working with R.Thentic and knew I had a slew of new music coming down the pipeline. My respect for Stones Throw has always been paramount. My knowledge of the label then was limited to Dilla, Doom, Madlib, I knew a little about Aloe Blacc, a girl I was dating had gone on a few Dam Funk rants, but from the artists I knew more about to ones I’d only had little exposure to, it was obvious the label was brimming with unbridled creativity, unique one of a kind artists. So I started sending Wolf all the new joints and I let him know that I’d love for him to consider me for his label.
They don’t exactly go around signing artists. What do you think it was about you to make them go for this more or less unprecedented move? Creativity, inventiveness, honesty, genuine talent itself, is becoming increasingly difficult to find in hip hop music (and in art as a whole. Every movie is a remake. Every song is a straight up jack). I don’t think that Wolf is avoiding signing people, I think that with the climate the way it is now, there’s just not as many cats to sign to a label like ST as there used to be. (Actually lemme amend that as I meet phenomenally talented brothers and sisters all the time. I guess what I mean is there’s more filth and nonsense than ever for them to cut through to be seen. The diamonds are still there there’s just more rough than ever). It’s more of a challenge than ever for talent based musicians to garner attention, and as a result talent based labels have a more difficult time locating cats to sign.
What is the deal for – which albums/projects? Originally there were specific projects in mind, an album called Kool Herc (Fertile Crescent) and another called Jams About Love, but since signing we’ve decided to call a few audibles. Right now we’re building some better bombs (shouts to Rabbi Darkside). Let you know soon as they’re done.
Any other label deals that you were considering and/or turned down? I had a couple of labels show me interest and I’m greatful for that but nothing that ever went beyond initial conversations.
What audience in particular do you think you’ll be able to reach now that you were previously out of tune with? My goal is still a world audience. The attention of Stones Throw’s fan base, the type of fan base that will rep for me as long as my music remains dope, will bring me a great deal closer to that goal.
Finally, and most importantly – have you gotten any Madlib beat tapes yet? Not yet, but I’m checking my email every 5 minutes.