Homeboy Sandman – Hallways
With production handled by DJ Spinna, Jonwayne, a clutch of emerging beatmakers, and a fantastic contribution from minimalist composer Josef Van Wissem, Homeboy Sandman's second full-length album for Stones Throw has enough complex, witty wordplay and dizzyingly experimental beat-work to satisfy any alternative hip-hop fan. Lead single America, The Beautiful, produced by Jonwayne, packs a devastating satirical lyric both laugh-out-loud funny and searingly insightful. The surreal, minimal Loads features a brilliant guest verse from Blu over a stripped beat. Activity's lurching double-time raps and over-clocked string samples are as infectious as they are challenging.
An almost perfect marriage between the more ambitious, lyrics-focused artistry of East Coast hip-hop and the pioneering beat-work of the West Coast, this album is a strong argument for Homeboy Sandman's increasing significance as a writer – an heir-in-waiting to vocabulary-rich artists like Aesop Rock, but with a stoned, deceptively throwaway delivery like Madlib. [Bram E. Gieben]