Homeboy Sandman once told us that he doesn’t “refer to hip hop as ‘The Game’”. As he approaches the stage tonight, the sound of his favourite MC Black Thought blaring from the decks behind, the look on his face says he is clearly not here to play, but that doesn’t mean that the audience isn’t in for a good time.
Kicking off with the ‘Miracle’ Sandman reminds us of the dexterity and punch of his flow whilst the inventive playfulness of his lyricism and performance keeps the party rocking. With DJ Sosa doing a fine job of keeping the set moving, seamlessly chopping track after track before they outstay their welcome, the set maintains a relentless momentum and the crowd is hooked. Sandman is alone on a large stage but fills every inch of it, tearing back and forth and even moving stage equipment to make sure everyone in the audience feels involved. Having no hype man for support his breath control is flawless yet at the same time the sheer energy being exerted is apparent from the constant stream of sweat pouring from his face. He is giving all the power he can muster without losing his balance and sense of stagecraft.
The material in the set is well selected and shows off Sandman’s dynamic musicality and broad subject matter. Fun numbers like ‘Big Belly’ have the crowd grinning whilst the rapid fire bounce of ‘The Carpenter’ and ‘Table Cloth’ has them moving their feet, hands waving. Overtly political numbers like ‘Illuminati’ and ‘America, the Beautiful, mark a distinct change in tone as Sandman’s figure becomes suddenly static and his voice painfully impassioned. Whilst calling out a government who “provide the drugs to medicate then cut the medicade, and institute a military state and provide Israel with military aid” Sandman also reminds us “We are the 99% locally, but we are the 1% globally” clearly just as ready to critique himself as institutions of political influence. His words are cutting without being preachy and we are made to feel involved rather than simply spoken to.
This down to earth approach is maybe best exemplified in the 2012 single ‘Not Really’. Sandman must have performed this 1000 times yet the sparse flow and conversational tone still sound sincere and colloquial as he assures us that in spite of his success he’s the “same sand, different beach”. Sandman’s love of his craft and overwhelming sense of warmth and love for the audience is apparent and when splitting the crowd, calling for back and forth participation or breaking down the moment for greater intimacy the people watching are instantly obliging, happy to be in the presence of a master at work.
Ultimately the set showcases Sandman’s many various strengths. The carefully sculpted style which he has refined in the last four years with a tenacious work ethic and prolific output holds everything in order, yet as he closes with 2009 favourite ‘Parallel Perpendicular’ we can be certain that he has held on to his spontaneous sense of fun and we are reminded once again that whilst this man is absolutely serious about what he does, half the point of that is to ensure that everyone has a good time.
Catch our Exclusive Interview with Homeboy Sandman here.