The Queens MC avoids cliché or close comparison on this Stones Throw six-tracker.
Louis Pattison 2012
While pretty new to Stones Throw – Chimera is his second six-track EP for the veteran hip-hop imprint – Homeboy Sandman is by no means green. Active since 2007, this 30-something from Queens, New York – real name Angel Del Villar II – packed in a law degree to pursue his burgeoning MC career.
He’s hardly preppy, but he certainly wears his smarts on his sleeve, his raps tying knots in conventional logic and zigzagging from topic to topic with fleet feet and impressive dexterity. In this respect, he’s a good fit for Stones Throw, a label which specialises in hip hop that looks back to the old school but gives it a futuristic spin.
Musically, Chimera forgoes straightforward rap production for a gloopy backdrop of smoky synths, bubbling slow-motion beats and ghosted soul samples. Del Villar’s boast that his songs deal with “content no one has ever rapped about before in the history of rap music” sets the bar pretty high, but whether musing on the police, politics and the surveillance state (Cops Get Scared Of Me, Illuminati), growing pains and the path to maturity (Hold Your Head), or simply taking his own lyrical skills out for a ride (Look Out), he succeeds in avoiding cliché or close comparison.
Next to modern rap hellions like Odd Future or Death Grips, his style might seem excessively indirect, all smoke and mirrors. But there’s still a joy in hearing an MC tinkering with the genre’s fundamentals, and anyone who enjoys their hip hop with a little reflection should curl their ears towards Chimera pronto.