Homeboy Sandman 

I knew within one minute of watching Homeboy Sandman that he would eventually command a top spot in hip-hop. It was about three years ago at the Bowery Poetry Club, and I was riding out my annual pre-Christmas mushroom bender and hip-hop scouting trip to New York City. There's no weekend I anticipate more; just me, some mushrooms, and a big bag of grass for two days spelunking Gotham's robust underground rap scene.

Boy Sand, as the door promoter called him, commanded the stage like Chuck D. At once he packed every rap quality that had ever moved me – from quick, humorous, and conscious, to witty, just, ambitious, and powered like a locomotive. Even other artists walked up front to rhyme along to his newly written "Lightning Bolt" – and rappers NEVER do that shit. Despite the hallucinogens I saw it clearly – they were cheering for the next talent with a shot of popping big. And so was I.

I don't bring up this first meeting to pound my own chest about discovering Homeboy Sandman. I didn't – Fairfield Weekly writer Adam Bernard did. I mention it to note just how long ago that was – December 2007, to be exact. At the time of this writing, Boy Sand is on the brink of becoming one of hip-hop's preeminent artists, not to mention one with tremendous potential to step into various commercial realms on his own terms. This shit didn't happen overnight. This shit took nourishment. And it only came after Boy Sand established his rules on his turf.

"I could have taken opportunities that would have put my momentum in the hands of others, but I didn't," he says, "Having the faith in my talent that I have – and also having the patience to stand firm – it's really put me in a position where everybody takes me mad seriously and nobody thinks they can clown me. I'm looking at the foundation that I've been able to develop, and the leverage that I have is real. I have a fan base that will stick with me regardless of what the media twist is."

Artists like Boy Sand aren't born from nowhere. While there's an infinite number of MCs who pack wicked smarts in a Will Hunting sort of way, this son of Queens public schools earned an Ivy League degree at UPENN, then finished two years of Hofstra Law School before picking up the mic permanently. With that said, while Boy Sand out-clevers so-called nerd rappers and twists language with a complexity akin to the almighty Qwel, he's no lyrical geek. In fact he's beyond smooth with it.

After a few impressive hand-to-hand releases that made some noise on line, Boy Sand exploded last year with his official debut, The Good Sun. With it he dismissed all suspicions that the creativity he flexed on singles and on stage couldn't translate on record – over 13 epic pieces, he proved himself to be a seismic eclectic rhyme force to be reckoned with. The accolades, which had already started flowing, finally erupted, with everybody from The Roots to MTV reaching out with opportunities.

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