Homeboy Sandman unpacks trauma and inspires those to heal
Growing up, people can go through a lot. It’s easier to look at other people’s lives and believe that they don’t have it as hard or even that one has it easier. The reality of it is, people are all going through something that is going to, or already has changed their life. For Angel Del Villar II, he’s no stranger to tough childhood situations. Leaving law school to pursue music, the Queens rapper took on the name Homeboy Sandman and has garnered attention through his live performances and projects. His debut album, Nourishment (Second Helpings), made him known as the MC with sharp lyrics and hypnotic melodies. With the release of his latest album, Don’t Feed the Monster, Sandman airs out all his trauma but instead of letting it consume him, he’s freeing himself of the weight he has carried for a long time.
“Trauma” is the single and first track off the album. Probably the heaviest song, it begins with altered vocals and a light guitar and bass melody with the hit of a cymbal before the bass-filled, almost lofi, production starts. Right off the back, Sandman goes on about painful memories he’s recalling. He ends the song saying, “it turned out that the only way that I could ever heal, is start to work through all the trauma I had kept concealed.” This theme is reoccurring throughout the project, almost like that line foreshadows what to expect as the listener continues.
“Stress” is a song that many people can relate to. Here, Sandman reflects on how he’s dealt with stress and what it has done to him. It explains how dangerous it is and the effects it has on people, regardless of their age. The beat matches the lyrics as it gives off an organized yet dysfunctional arrangement of instruments. “Walk By Faith” brings a different approach to his usual quick flows. This one is slower and spread out as Sandman is clearly pronouncing each word. It’s almost as if he wants listeners to understand what he is saying with no confusion. He uses this time to emphasize his power in his faith and beliefs. When the times get tough for him, he goes back to his faith and steers back to the right mindset.
While Don’t Feed the Monster does unpack a lot of untold stories and emotions from Sandman, he does allow himself to have fun. The fourth song, “Hello Dancer” features the sole producer of the album, Quelle Chris. The two play their lyrics around the ’80s pop-esque production. “Waiting On My Girl,” seems almost like a vent session for Sandman as he goes off about what is it like dealing with a girl. Over a beat that feels like the background music to a black and white detective movie, he is trying to understand how his girlfriend navigates time and her day-to-day activities. He does credit her for allowing him to write music during the times that he does wait on her, so it isn’t completely a negative situation for him. The final track of the album, “Straight,” has a fast-paced electric guitar centered beat. Sandman matches that energy with a quick flow and catchy chorus. Here, he let’s everyone know that the new him is the one that matters, and he is doing good and moving forward.
“To overcome a feat, I might look at my feet, but I’ll never look down” is a good way to summarize the overall concept of Don’t Feed the Monster. There is a lot to unpack inside the 15-track project, but the most important part is understanding that this was all a part of the healing process. Sandman says, “I was having a hard time and this record saved me.” Everyone heals and grows in different ways. Homeboy Sandman chose to channel it through music, giving people a refreshing reminder that anybody can grow from what they came from. As long as one keeps their head up, anything is possible.