Interview

The Internet May Not Be Good But Homeboy Sandman & Edan’s Album Is

The prolific rapper and long-dormant producer discuss their upcoming 'Humble Pi'

Homeboy Sandman raps; he does not dance. So he was surprised when he found himself with his girlfriend doing the thing he doesn’t do at a party at Queens’ Rockaway Beach. His collaborator Edan was DJing and put on William DeVaughn’s “Be Thankful For What You Got.” Sandman immediately started moving. “I thought y’all were doing that to make me feel good,” Edan says during a three-way call with Sandman, “because I think I soon as I started y’all were boogying.”

Edan finds himself at an unusual spot, too. While Homeboy Sandman has been fairly prolific — recently dropping two albums in as many years, 2016’s Kindness For Weakness and 2017’s VeinsHumble Pi, Edan’s seven-track collaboration with Sandman, is the producer’s first project since the 2009 mixtape Echo Party and first studio album since 2005’s widely praised Beauty And The Beat. The new one is out on Stones Throw at the end of October; that’s the cover art up top.

Edan sounds as anachronistic on Humble Pi as he did last decade. His beats bend old-school samples in ways that make them sound future-gazing, and Homeboy’s versatile presence meshes with those psychedelic soundscapes. It helps that the duo constantly searches for the sui generis, a journey that leads to cuts like the standout “Grim Seasons” — out everywhere today after debuting last month on YouTube — where Homeboy Sandman tells a gritty epic across the four seasons over Edan’s four soul-filled backdrops.

“Edan and I discussed some stuff that might be too similar to stuff that we’ve seen,” Sandman says. “I think one time we were in the kitchen talking about something — I don’t remember what it was, a music video or a song concept — and it was a moment that warmed my heart because we both realized that something we were talking about was similar to something else. We just realized that for both of us it meant that we were nixing the idea.”

The two first collaborated on Kindness For Weakness’ glitchy and spasmodic “Talking (Bleep).” Humble Pi doesn’t have as many bloops, but it keeps that same energy. Edan and Sandman spoke to Stereogum about the creative process, if the internet is good, and whether or not Homeboy truly has beef with Match.com. Check out the conversation, condensed and edited for clarity, below.

STEREOGUM: You said your last album was inspired by a “burning desire to just fuckin’ rhyme.” Is it the same case here?

HOMEBOY SANDMAN: Not the same as the last one. [The inspiration was] fuckin’ with Edan for the first time on the project and capturing some moments I haven’t captured yet. And capturing some new vibes, you know?

EDAN: I think both of us wanted to put beauty into the world and put something positive out there. It’s just mutual respect there. Homeboy Sandman just brought out enthusiasm in me, made me want to create. When I find like-minded individuals, I’m just excited to see what we can put together.

STEREOGUM: Like-minded in what sense?

EDAN: In the sense that we both come from a certain school of hip-hop music that we both appreciate. In general, I think we both care about the craft a lot and wish to contribute something. We want to try to leave it in a better space than when we found it. That’s just one of two ways to situate how we are like-minded. There’s probably a lot of small philosophical things that we have in common. Mainly, from a musical standpoint, we’re just cut from a cloth where I feel grateful to work with him.

HOMEBOY SANDMAN: As do I.

STEREOGUM: It’s been a while since Edan dropped a full-length project.

EDAN: I’m not somebody who’s really caught in the career template. As long as I have food and shelter and I’m not struggling, if I don’t have something urgent to say to the world, I’m not going to force the issue. It wasn’t part of some grand plan to come back with Sandman. It just sparked my enthusiasm and I said, “Yeah, let’s go.” It’s more of a by-product of I was excited, so let’s put something out.

HOMEBOY SANDMAN: The first song we did was [#Neverusetheinternetagain]. We did that and I was like, “Yo, I like that a lot.” I really appreciated the cosmic energy that Edan emanates, and I enjoyed working with him a great deal to tap into that in an ongoing fashion. I definitely wanted to create with him more—wanted to be with him when he was harvesting sounds and putting stuff together. I felt a lot of momentum. I felt a real unique kind energy that I was able to tap into myself. So it was important for me to do everything I can to see that through.

There’s been a lot of feedback that Edan hasn’t put out a project in some time, and I feel [honored] to be associated with a project of his that’s highly anticipated.

STEREOGUM: You came at Match.com on “#Neverusetheinternetagain.” (“Match.com like an online pimp/Step to a girl in real life, you fucking wimp.”)

HOMEBOY SANDMAN: No disrespect to people on Match.com. The lyrics on that song is just representative of my mindstate — I’m not here to diss Match.com. I know it may come across that way. It’s funny because earlier in my career I went through a period where I would’ve said, “Fuck Match.com,” then I went through a period where I was like, “Let me not say, ‘Fuck Match.com,’ because people who be on Match.com would get sad.” Now I’m at this point where I’mma say, “Fuck Match.com,” because that shit represents what I think about the internet in a way. Love and respect to people on Match.com.

I use the internet: We had a Google [Calendar invite] for this interview. I do emails, go onto IG, and things of this nature. If it was up to me where you can either have to internet or not have it at all — my vote would be not at all. The song in an expression of that: We got the internet so I use it, but if we could knock it away, I would.

STEREOGUM: Why is that?

HOMEBOY SANDMAN: I’m 37. I talked to my father and he was telling me — Edan, feel free to cut me off if I’m rambling. Am I rambling?

EDAN: It’s cool. Just keep going.

HOMEBOY SANDMAN: Yeah, well..

EDAN: You were talking to your pops.

HOMEBOY SANDMAN: Yeah! People are always talking about how things are actually getting worse, or do people just think things are actually getting worse? Is New York getting wack, or has it always been wack in some different way? Anyways, we’re not gonna say [much] about my father because it’s not really worth it to say.

I see a lot of corniness emanating from the internet. I remember before the internet, so I just recognize a lot of new corniness associated with it. I like being able to check when things open and close? “What time is the gym open? What time is the gym closed?” That’s pretty convenient. What about you, Edan?

EDAN: I know somebody personally who has not used the internet for six years. What he said was that in regards to taking in music or art, he’s found it much more enjoyable to go to shows to research what a band looks like. Anytime there’s a show, there’s a lot of anticipation of what these people are going to look like. When he finds out about something that inspires him, it feels very serendipitous. You actually have to talk to somebody and there’s word of mouth. You go to a record store and look at things physically. It’s just a more rewarding way to take art and music.

I love that people are saving paper. But I’m also a little bit concerned about what I’m hearing about 5G, which is what they have in Canada, and the increase in cancer — and things of that nature. They’re planning to bring 5G over here and there obviously stands to be a lot of people who make a lot of money off of it, and obviously they’re going to steamroll that agenda into happening regardless of what scientists and research have to say about it. That’s not too fun to think about. I do wonder if the internet has improved our quality of life, but I’m not sure that it has.

STEREOGUM: You see a lot of collaborations like DJ Premier and Royce Da 5’9″ and Smoke DZA and Pete Rock, to name a few. How do you differentiate between a fruitful collaboration and a cash grab?

EDAN: I think you can hear it in the music. There’s certain projects where you get the sense that people are more hung up on the outcome and the business ramifications. When that’s the case, the music sounds rushed and it doesn’t necessarily have as much replay value. I think a successful collaboration is something sincere where two people elevate each other. I think that’s the case here.

Sandman and I went through some heated moments where he might’ve been frustrated by me because I took a little while to do something. All of that builds an appreciation and strengthens a friendship over time. That whole spectrum of experience, I think that’s what makes it a quality collaboration. It also gives me greater memories down the road when I pull the record out and listen back. I’ll just be able to think about our friendship for what it is. That’s more along the lines of what I hope to get out of music or when I collaborate with people.

STEREOGUM: One of the lyrics is “I hold my dick while dictator’s ousted.” How much does current events play a role in the songwriting? Is that a direct reference?

HOMEBOY SANDMAN: That’s interesting that you’d [pull that]. At different times in my career I had a bunch of stuff to say about dictators and political stuff. I’m not in that mindstate in this record. I think that lyric…it’s kind of just, “I’m the man.”

EDAN: It just means I’m gonna maintain my frame of mind while all these political leaders come and go.

HOMEBOY SANDMAN: My rhymes aren’t too inspired by what would be regarded as current events. I got my own set of current events. What can I talk about beside my set of current events?

STEREOGUM: That’s interesting that it’s fluid enough to fit into different topics. It can be applied to Trump, but it’d make sense anywhere.

HOMEBOY SANDMAN: Making it rapping without ever rapping about Trump is hard. I must be playing a Trump card.

EDAN: I peeped the rhyme kid!

HOMEBOY SANDMAN: No doubt brother!

STEREOGUM: You mentioned that you want to leave hip-hop better than when you found it. How do you know when you accomplished that goal?

EDAN: I’m not sure I’ll ever know. It’s just a mindset when creating. It’s very subjective, but…ultimately I think hip-hop has done a lot of good for the world. It’s brought people together who otherwise wouldn’t have been friends. It’s broken down color barriers and all kinds of beautiful things. That incidental thing when it was more of a sample-based culture and got a lot of people to seek out older music. There’s all these artists who would’ve been disregarded. All sorts of beautiful things happened as a result of this positive spark.

Just seeing how majestic this artform can be, I just want to uphold that. Sometimes you see music where you feel like it’s a cash grab and you feel like people aren’t that interested in artistry. I think what I said before about leaving music in a better space than when you found it, it’s just a mindframe of appreciation. Even when you’re a guest in somebody’s house, you don’t want to leave the house a mess.

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Humble Pi is out 10/26 on Stones Throw. Pre-order it here. Here’s the tracklist:

01 “Grim Seasons”
02 “The Gut”
03 “Rock & Roll Indian Dance”
04 “Unwavering Mind”
05 “That Moment When”
06 “#Neverusetheinternetagain”
07 “Evolution Of (Sand)Man”

CREDIT: Carl Cornelius