Stones Throw’s Homeboy Sandman offers a hip hop education in Liverpool, Getintothis’ Jack Atkins bows down to the master.
Even though it’s only a quarter way through, 2014 is shaping up to be one of Liverpool’s finest years for hip-hop in quite some time, evidenced once again with New York’s Homeboy Sandman in Shipping Forecast‘s basement.
Starting proceedings is Benny Diction, now residing in East London but a familiar face to the Liverpool hip-hop community. He starts as the gig means to go on; just him and a DJ, spitting with a style reminiscent of Roots Manuva sans the baritone, layered over classic New York beats from the likes of MF DOOM and co.
Benny Diction live at The Shipping Forecast
Following on is NY native I Am Many, who builds on the hype started by Benny, threatening to get the crowd into an absolute frenzy. Many‘s style is more abrasive and hardcore than Diction and Homeboy Sandman, fusing a flow like DJ Format collaborator Abdominal and Organized Konfusion era Pharoahe Monch. I Am Many‘s raw Brooklyn style threatens to blow the low roof off of the place, Supreme caps bobbing every which way you look.
As soon as I Am Many finishes his last verse, Homeboy Sandman himself takes the stage, giving shout-outs to his support, his DJ and Emile Heskey amongst others.
What Sandman brings to his live shows is more energy than anticipated, compared to his recordings. Whereas on tape he eschews a calm almost laid back style, in person it is swapped for a slightly more frenetic urgency. The beauty of this is that it doesn’t affect the tracks themselves, which still deliver the same kind of punch that has underlined his entire career.
Even slower tracks like Illuminati don’t disrupt the party vibe which is occuring, merely acting as a sombre break before reverting back to a more lighthearted atmosphere, with Not Really in particular causing the tight knit audience to respond with fervour.
Sandman‘s set itself has a nice pace to it; he doesn’t seem to be in a rush, not popping a verse here or there to spike the audience, rather doing what he enjoys, and it shows. His beats are warm and inviting, his lyrics humble, and the crowd connect with him because of this. There’s no bullshit pretence or ego stroking, merely a musician who knows, loves and respects his art form.
It’s hip-hop itself which Sandman raps about most, claiming that for too long it has been dismissed and unfairly pissed upon by those not in the know; “I mean no disrespect to Bob Dylan, but show some love for MadVillain” summarising exactly how he feels about those who came before him, and even about Sandman himself.
As his website says; Homeboy Sandman is a musician, his genre is hip-hop, and from what he showed tonight, it’s only a matter of time before he’s welcomed back into Liverpool with open arms.
Pictures by Getintothis‘ Carl Dyer
Further reading on Getintothis:
Top 10: West Coast hip hop albums
GIT Award 2014: Artist nominee profile – Mad Brains
Ghostface Killah makes beeline for Kazimier July date