ďI always had a bunch of different names,Ē explains the 28-year-old unsigned hype. ďIt started around the time of Wu-Tang where they came out and had all these different nicknames: Johnny Blaze and Lucky Hands and Golden Arms and all that. It wasnít even a rapping thing. I would just come up with things and tell Ďem to people. I was Teddy English, then I was Teddy Ingles, I was A-th Wonder, Skinny Terry, Buck Batista, Lenny the Brown ThumbÖ all these different ridiculous names.Ē
Despite graduating from the prestigious University of Pennsylvania and ever going on to a couple of years of law-school, Homeboy Sandman puts rhyming first. As an avid fan of music of all kinds, rapping was a natural extension of his personality; a way to communicate just the same as talking or writing. He didnít necessarily grow up wanting to be a rapper, but at a certain point, his flows were simply too prominent in his mind to consider doing anything else.
ďRhyming is all I do,Ē he explains matter-of-factly. ďThis is what Iím here to do. I wake up in the morning and thatís what I am. Iím not concerned with none of that other shit. Iím not concerned with whoís running for office, Iím not concerned with the bailout, I wanna make my rhymes. Iím crazy nice. I donít have to worry about anything but being crazy nice. Everything else will work itself out.Ē
Name: Homeboy Sandman aka Boy De La Croix.
From: Elmhurst, Queens.
Latest Release: Actual Factual Pterodactyl.
Time Rapping Professionally: "I would say, what is it now, October? About a year and 10 months. Ever since Fresh Prince & DJ Jazzy Jeff came out with Heís The DJ Iím The Rapper, I was writing my little rhymes out just for fun. The first time I ever sat down and said, 'let me be a rapper,' was a little bit under two years ago."
On Admiring The Fresh Prince Growing Up: "The first rap tape I ever had was Heís The DJ Iím The Rapper. I will say now on the record, in his day, Fresh Prince was hanging with any other rapper out there. He used to rap about fun shit and all that and people would be like, 'Heís not in the streets,' but Iím a lyrics cat. A cat could be rapping about cutting the grass as long as heís nice. I always thought even since I was a kid that Fresh Prince wasnít getting a fair shake."
What Sparked The Transition: "What it was really, the fact that I used to smoke weed everyday. I always used to write my raps [when I was high] and people would be like, 'Your shit is dope,' but for me, I always felt like I was very dependent on the weed for writing and for spitting. I quit smoking in December of '06 and I thought that I wouldnít be able to rhyme anymore, but I was like, 'Whatever, at least Iíll be able to be my own person and not dependent on weed.' The first time I was able to write sober that was dope, my life changed right then and there. I always knew that it I could do this sober, nobody could stop me; Iíd take over the world right then and there."
What Made Him Quit Weed: "Everyoneís got different things that work for them, but for me, I was becoming addicted to weed. People say you canít get addicted to weed but I was addicted to weed. I was dependent on it. I wasnít keeping it real; I was a fake, fraudulent person. I was ashamed of being somebody who needed something to bring my art out, to bring my talent out. That shame is what made me stop."
The Meaning of His Name: "People get confused about it because they think of the Sandman as the dude who puts you to sleep, but the Sandman is actually the cat who brings you your dreams. Itís more about dream-weavery, the imagery. You could be day dreaming wide awake and thatís the Sandman. For the 'Homeboy,' itís just like 'Iím your homeboy.' Like, if the Sandman was your homeboy lived in your building, came by your place to borrow mayonnaise and shit, he would be 'Homeboy Sandman.'"
On The Sandman (Formerly of the Re-Up Gang): "A couple people have bought that up to me but nah, I would never change [my name], itís who I am. I guess he came up with 'Sandman' from somewhere, but to me, itís like having two guys named 'John' that are still completely different people. One is 'John Jones' and the other in 'John Robinson.' I donít feel like thereís any type of friction with that."
On Being Labeled A Conscious Rapper: "Well, I think when people say 'conscious' theyíre not talking about a style so much as theyíre talking about a subject matter. Theyíre talking about something different from all the negativity thatís out there. Iím really just having fun but I stand for people using their minds. Iím definitely not for all that anti-black music, and by that I mean music about killing black people, selling drugs to black people. People donít look at it that way because itís made by black people, but itís anti-black. Iím not with any of that shit. I talk about the fun, girls and whatever; itís not Bible-Belt rap but itís definitely not that corny 'Iím gonna go shoot somebody' rap."
On Getting An Ivy League Degree And Then Pursuing Rap: "I never had money, not even for day in my life, so I donít care about money. Everybodyís caught up with money and the mass hysteria is ridiculous to me. 'I ainít never get dough/ so I never had dough/ I was still a man though/ so I was never mad.' I graduated from [University of Pennsylvania] I was a teacher, I taught high-school for two years, I went to law school for two years. I was trying to do law school and rhyme at the same time but the minute it became obvious that one or the other had to go, it was clear to me."
On Current Events: "Thereís things that are going on in peopleís lives that nobody pays attention to. People come to me about voting like 'Yo, are you gonna vote?' I walk around my block and itís sickening; thatís what concerns me. I spend all day and all night trying to open peopleís eyes to that, trying to make them more accountable for whatís going on around them. The things like the election, I feel thatís a distraction."
These Arenít Things People Deal With On A Day-To-Day Basis: "Iím much more concerned with how youíre behaving with the people around you. Are you showing love to people or are you running around fighting people. Are you trying to keep the peace or are you trying to spread hate and war. Everyone thinks they can run around spreading hate and war and then they can take five minutes to go vote and thatís changing the world. I think thatís crazy. I donít even know whatís going on outside, man. I doní believe in the news, I donít know whatís going on here and there. I donít trust those cats, man."
Other Rapper He Does Listen To: "My favorite crew always coming up was The Roots [click to read] crew and my favorite emcee coming up was Black Thought; heís amazing. With those three albums, Do You Want More?!!!??!, Illadelph Halflife, and Things Fall Apart, those are three flawless albums. Lyrically, musically, the whole sonics of it was crazy. [Thereís also] [Big] Pun, Andre 3000 [click to read], [Wu-Tang Clan], Eminem, RedmanÖ I could go on because thereís lot of cats that are dope, but Iíve never been the type that just ate what I was given. Even before I as rapping, I hear a rhyme and I think like, 'How difficult is it to write this, could I write this myself?' I never listen to anything that I could write myself real easily."
The Formula For His Style: "Hip Hop is music and music is for the ear. Music needs to sound pretty, thatís what itís for. Thatís why you can put on a bumpiní track and the rapper is spitting nonsensical garbage but people get drawn into it. The reason why he can pass is because the track is bumpiní. I want my music to be as good as possible, so I need a track thatĎs bumpiní and then I need my words to be another instrument on the tack. I need my words to sound so nice that even if I wasnít saying real words it would be pleasing to the ear. I need to have that rhythm and that melody. When Iím writing a rhyme, thatís where it comes from; the sound comes first. I very seldom write on a topic; I start off by saying, 'Whatís gonna sound good on this beat?' in terms of rhythm and melody. Before I hear a word, IĎve got a melody, then Iím plugging words into that."