Usually when rap songs are about colors they’re fairly predictable or shallow, referencing a gang affiliation or the particular shade of a luxury auto. When Homeboy Sandman got a beat from Jonti to make a song for Radiolab’s colors episode, he took a very literal route.
“Brown” is a song about the color brown. No, really, both of Homeboy Sandman’s intricate and flawlessly delivered verses constantly reference or describe various ways you can come up with the color brown. For instance, the following are name checked for the particular way their light refractions cause your eye to recognize brown: buff elks, coconuts and cocoa puff milk, chew sticks, tree stumps etched with the names of grade school sweethearts, saddles, saddle bags of coffee grounds, camels, owls, a dirt road, oil beneath the soil, the shore, autumn, Woodstock attendees covered in mud. And that’s just the first verse.
Homeboy Sandman has consistently shown his attentiveness to the craft of writing not just for delivery but for the analytical eye (and ear). In this track he finds a delicate balance between creativity, eccentricity, intricacy and style. Hopefully his Stones Throw debut LP continues this.
Jonti, the Australian wonder-kid who also has found a home at Stones Throw and is about to tour supporting Gotye, provides a quirky and slow-rising beat to match Homeboy’s particular flow and content. Just when I’m close to being jaded by repetitive hip-hop from various extremes, pleasant surprises like this pop up and remind me there is still room for the unexpected.