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Name: Adam Bernard
Home: Fairfield, Connecticut, United States
About Me: Entertainment journalist with 15+ years of experience. Supporter of indie music. Lover of day baseball, fringe movies, & chicken shawarma. Part time ninja. Nerdy, but awesome.
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Artist Of The Week – Homeboy Sandman
Monday, July 02, 2007

A lot of rappers will tell you they have a long history of hustling in the street and dealing drugs, even if most of the time it isn’t anywhere near the truth. Homeboy Sandman is a little bit different, however. He’d rather tell you about how he caught a free ride to Penn and what he’s learned during his time traveling the world and being a teacher in Queens, NY. Stressing education over street life, Homeboy Sandman openly wonders “isn’t anybody else kinda perplexed by this coincidence that all the best rappers just happen to be gun toting drug dealers, too? Why can't anybody who works at Citibank rap? Is there some type of connection between being a criminal despicable person and having praise worthy musical capabilities?” For Homeboy Sandman the answer is an emphatic no. I caught up with the New York native this week and asked him about what he’s seen traveling the world, his thoughts on rappers as role models, and what kind of impact his parents have had on his life and music.

Adam Bernard: Tell me about your name. How did you become Homeboy Sandman and what does it mean?
Homeboy Sandman: The Sandman is the cat that puts dreams into your head, all that imagery, all that imagination. It's so vivid sometimes it seems real. Then there's the slang, "puttin heads to bed," popularized by architects EPMD. So they way I create all different types of colorful images and dreamweavery, that's Sandman, but at the same time it's Homeboy Sandman. This is the Sandman, but he's your Homeboy, he lives in your building, he comes by to borrow milk, eggs, things of that nature. He's out front when it's hot. He's cracking jokes. He's your peoples, He's your homeboy. When you see him around the way you yell big up. So I’m the Homeboy Sandman.

Adam Bernard: You are the first generation offspring of immigrant parents (Dominican father, Puerto Rican mother). How has this helped shape your music?
Homeboy Sandman: My parents listened to all that old Spanish stuff. That proved to be a really good influence on me because you find a bunch of dope beats sampling that stuff and not only that but lots of the beats of Spanish music are real similar to each other if not exactly alike, so lots of time Spanish artists need to depend a lot more on their delivery and their lyrics to set them apart. I try to do the same thing with my flow, even though I get to use a bunch of different dope beats, too. My father is a real music man, he loves the Spanish stuff, but he's always listened to a wide variety of tunes, like the old Motown and jazz. He played all these different things all the time so I was really lucky to have lots of musical variety during my upbringing. Due to that my range and appreciation for different sounds was expanded. Thanks pop.

Adam Bernard: What do you feel makes you unique in this cluttered Hip-Hop world?
Homeboy Sandman: My music is 200% brand new. I do songs nobody's ever done before. I do songs where I’m a newscaster giving cats the real scoop, breaking down from local to national to weather to sports. I do songs about breaking into radio stations and holding cats hostage until they spin my cuts all day. I do songs about falling in love with girls in pizza shops and my heart breaking when they tell me they have a man. Cats do don't do songs about this stuff. Cats don't use the words I use. I got vocab. I’m well read. You might have to hit the dictionary a few times, but that's a good thing. We need to know more words. Rap cats these days, you can't even tell one verse from the other. Everybody’s using the same 50 words. (Find the pun in the last sentence.) All my verses sound different. I might use three different flows on the same song, and my number of flows is ever expanding as is the universe. And my joints is music! My voice is an instrument. I don't write verses and lay them over whatever beat. I get my beat first, then I sit with it and I lay my instrument over it. Assonance, dissonance, alliteration. If I wasn't even saying words it'd sound dope. I’m a musician. I’m trying to please your ear, I’m not trying to impress you with my image. My music is for the music people. I recognize that that's a minority, but I don't need to be a zillionaire. I just need enough money for food and rent. That’s it. And fresh Reebok classics.

Adam Bernard: According to your bio your “commitment to academic excellence” has afforded you the opportunity to travel throughout the United States, Europe, and the Caribbean. Talk to me about this and what you’ve been seeing and doing in your travels.
Homeboy Sandman: I’ve always been an academic type. My parents never let me do a thing unless my homework was done first. So they instilled good habits in me. It’s real unfortunate that this made me something of an anomaly amongst my peers, and as time went on I started to recognize that I was being afforded special opportunities just because my grades were better. So I got to go to a rich fancy high school up in New Hampshire. There I learned that being poor was much better than being rich 'cause rich kids are fucked up! Then I got to go to Penn in Philly for basically free. While I was there I did all different types of programs and always took full advantage of everything. To make a long story short, during my college years I got to go to Cali for free, North Carolina for free, England for free, I can't even remember all the places I got to go to for free. What I learned more than anything else is that people are generally the same everywhere. Our differences are cultural differences, like what we wear and eat and how we talk, but nobody's tougher, nobody's smarter, nobody's cooler. Another thing I’ve recognized is that all the nonsense that they pump through every possible media outlet to brainwash our young children makes people think that we have it bad in this country. Quality of life is about the opportunities you have to get what you want and what you need. There are no ghettos out here. When I was in Puerto Rico I took a shower and it was like somebody was ringing out a paper towel over my head. In the Dominican Republic people shit in holes in the capital. Cats don't know about that in this country. I mean, homeless people do, but not the cat from the projects bitching that he never had nothing. He had hot water. He had shelter from the rain that wasn't gonna fall in if it got too windy. I went to Cali and in the poorest sections everybody's got a house and a car. I thought the only reason people needed money in the first place was to get a house and a car. Lots of our people are brainwashed into thinking they're in hell and then they act like it. I’m not saying everything is sweet, things could always be better for anybody anywhere, but we definitely spend a lot more time accentuating the negative than we do the positive. I think the truth is, most of us have more than enough positive and we don't even know it.

Adam Bernard: With you doing all this travel and working with kids I’m wondering what your thoughts are on rappers as role models.
Homeboy Sandman: Rappers are the biggest role models kids have these days, Black kids and Spanish kids. How could they not be? They're the only heroes that look like us that we're given besides athletes, but their influence is much stronger than athletes because you don't have to watch a game if you don't want to, but there's no way in hell that you could live around the way without hearing rap music constantly, from your TV, radio, cars passing by, other people walking by you rapping out loud while. I was a high school teacher in Queens for two years. All these kids are doing is trying to imitate rappers. The way they talk. They way they dress. They way they behave. It’s real sad. People are always like, it's just music, it's the parents’ responsibility to make sure their children don't take it seriously. Fuck that. Yeah, parents are doing a shitty job, but that's no reason to give carte blanche to the music industry. Parents are the first line of defense, just because they fail it doesn't mean all other lines of defense are absolved of responsibility. Rappers wear pink and bike chains, kids wear pink and bike chains. Rappers say fuck bitches, kids say fuck bitches. What’s up with this whole denial thing going on in our community? Your child's hero, the person hanging up on his wall, the person whose message he pumps into his ears 24 hours a day, is saying that he's cool because he sells drugs, because he carries guns, because he doesn't give a damn about women. You don't think that's going to affect you're child?

For more Homebody Sandman check out homeboysandman.com & myspace.com/homeboysandman.


posted by Adam Bernard @ 7:45 AM  
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