Our homeboy Homeboy Sandman became the latest in a string of rappers-turnt-essayists (see also: Brother Ali on homophobia, Lupe Fiasco in The Chicago Sun-Times) with an editorial that was published a few hours ago on the Huffington Post. The topic at hand was…well, topics. Or, to be more specific, the lack of topical diversity he sees (believe us, Homeboy, we see it too) in hip-hop’s current incarnation . The sameness, the conformity, the attack, as Sandman put it so eloquently, of the clones. The meditation is (unsurprisingly) an honest and refreshing read, incorporating Sandman’s personal experience with schoolkids, a range of ‘off-topic’ rap that has defined the best of the genre and personally opened his mind (from KRS-One‘s “Beef” to Kanye‘s “Jesus Walks”) to a sampling of the flat-file rap currently on offer via major market radio. Curious about what exactly pushed Sandman over the edge and inspired him to put down his pen for a pixel, so to speak, we reached out and got this response:
“It’s just becoming so wierd everybody telling me how different I am. ‘Cause, you know, everybody’s different. Everybody is unique and one of a kind on this planet. I see all these people acting the same and whenever you see that happening that’s irrefutable, undisputable evidence that people are not being themselves. Either because they don’t want to or because they don’t even know how. because if everybody were being themselves, then everybody would be different . . . and so I wanted to speak on that and how it’s manifesting in the culture and the music I love.”
Read a quick excerpt from Sandman’s excellent essay below and then hit the link at bottom to get the full text via HuffPo:
I love going into schools and talking with kids. Before making music I taught high school full time. Ironically, students pay infinitely more attention now that I’m a rapper. Class always begins the same way. “What is hip hop? When you think about hip hop, what comes to mind?” I’m good at asking in a tone that suggests I’m curious to hear what their answers are, but I could write them all up on the board without calling on a single student.
“Money!” The class murmurs in agreement.
“Cars. Clothes. Jewelry. Watches.” I suggest that that kind of falls under the money umbrella. They agree.
“The streets.” I play dumb to flush this answer out. “What do you mean the streets? Do you mean like, concrete? Driving directions?”
They laugh, then correct me. “No. Street stuff. Ghetto stuff. Drugs. Crime. Shooting people.”
I thank them for the clarification, and ask if there’s anything else. Everyone knows what the last answer is, but depending on the grade, it may take some cajoling on my end to get a student over the embarrassment of blurting it out.
“Sex!” And the room erupts in laughter.