Tag Archives: Kyle

Sound ‘Round: Kyle / Homeboy Sandman

Hip-hop’s cool kids seize the day

Kyle – Smyle (Indie-Pop, 2015)

kyle smyleIf America swears that ability alone is all one needs to climb its rigid economic ladder, why is this good-natured youngster still grinding away in obscurity? Here is a gentleman who is as dead-funny as he is dead-smart. Who gets everything right from the video game beats to the slow jams that kick Drake’s ass. Who digs Star Wars, Wonder Woman and Jesus. Who prefers one night toss offs but still dreams about his future shawty. Who returns the favor to Chance the Rapper for allowing him a dynamite cameo on last year’s unbeatable Donnie Trumpet collab. That much of these 13 tracks are set during the summer means you’re right to get your kicks in before school starts. But even after teacher calls roll and the trees shed their leaves, the music will still radiate heat. Credit Kyle’s infectious hooks — whether rhyming in a West Coast accent that masks his lower class upbringing or crooning in a timbre so sweet it’s a wonder he hasn’t been granted more features. The one time things turns nasty comes on “Remember Me?” wherein he lashes out at a deadbeat dad who skipped his birthdays. Can you blame him? Here’s to smyling even though it’s sometimes the hardest thing to do. GRADE: A-

Key Tracks: “SummertimeSoul” / “Remember Me?” / “Endless Summer Symphony”

Homeboy Sandman – Kindness for Weakness (Stones Throw)

homeboy sandman - kindness for weaknessAngel Del Villar is a former law student who spits with such ferocity it’s as if his rhymes double as opportunities to regurgitate notes from the Bar Exam. He’s quick-lipped as he is prolific, releasing 14 albums, mixtapes or EPs since 2007. His verses are marked by wit, humor and wordplay, and his smooth flow is so nimble yet strong he often skips the chorus — more time to showboat. Though this outing is marked by many familiar traits, it’s most striking for its methodical nature. The beats are slowed to a thick jelly as Homeboy realizes sacrificing speed doesn’t negate potency. He plays by a new set of rules, but keeping it real remains the grand objective. He’s fond of his Queens home but still loathes riding crowded subways and observing neglected homeless citizens. He also lambasts media entities who report the latest rap beef while ignoring mass incarceration of young black men. Truth takes the form of the Almighty on “God,” with a sermon that falls flat from an abundance of pontificating. His humanistic side wears better on the finale. “In this reality (truth) might seem out of place / That’s only because this reality is so out of shape.” Amen. GRADE: A-

Key Tracks: “Speak Truth” / “Seam By Seam” / “Talking (Bleep)”

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