Review: Homeboy Sandman (@HomeboySandman) Live @TheJazzCafe !

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. 

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Rishma Dhaliwal

Rishma Dhaliwal

Edit­or / PR Con­sult­ant at No Bounds
Rishma Dhali­w­al has extens­ive exper­i­ence study­ing and work­ing in the music and media industry. Hav­ing writ­ten a thes­is on how Hip Hop acts as a social move­ment, she has spent years research­ing and con­nect­ing with artists who use the art form as a tool for bring­ing a voice to the voice­less. Cur­rently work­ing in TV, Rishma brings her PR and media know­ledge to I am Hip Hop and oth­er pro­jects by No Bounds.

About Rishma Dhaliwal

Rishma Dhaliwal
Rishma Dhaliwal has extensive experience studying and working in the music and media industry. Having written a thesis on how Hip Hop acts as a social movement, she has spent years researching and connecting with artists who use the art form as a tool for bringing a voice to the voiceless. Currently working in TV, Rishma brings her PR and media knowledge to I am Hip Hop and other projects by No Bounds.

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