Homeboy Sandman has a considerably deeper real world resume than the typical underground rapper. The Queens-bred emcee served as a high school teacher and then almost completed a law degree before settling on rap as a career path. Maybe it's this extended work and life experience that accounts for the almost disconcerting levels of maturity—and humility—present in his music. First of a Living Breed, his latest full-length and first for indie hip-hop powerhouse Stones Throw, reveals Sandman as a definitive child of the '90s. Stylistically, he multiplies De La Soul's elastic wordplay by the jazzy, limbless flows of the Pharcyde but, unlike so many of his peers, he's rarely didactic in his nostalgia. Instead, he's most comfortable inside his own world, playfully bouncing around the line between wide-eyed motivational speaker and self-effacing everyman. He spends most of "Hold Your Head," from the warm-up EP Chimera, mechanically running down the problems of the world—from getting caught in the rain to sleeping on the curb—but the track is anything but a complaint. Rather, he softens the blow through optimism, calmly bellowing the song's title repeatedly. Maybe getting through tough times really can be so simple. – Andrew Nosnitsky, Google Play
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