It’s 2004, and Pusha T and Malice are pissed.
It had been two years since the Virginia-based hip-hop duo known as The Clipse [click to read] had released a full-length album despite the fact their follow-up to the gold-selling 2002 album Lord Willin’ [click to read], Hell Hath No Fury [click to read], had been completed, thanks to their original label evaporating into Jive Records, home to pop music mega-sellers Britney Spears and Justin Timberlake.
But rather than languish in label limbo the brothers Thornton took to the mixtape scene, recruiting a pair of rhyme slingers from Philadelphia – Ab-Liva of Major Figgas and C.A.N.N.O.N.S. Inc. frontrunner Sandman – and formed the Re-Up Gang, releasing the first of three critically acclaimed street albums from their We Got It 4 Cheap series. Four years later the crew dropped their official studio release, Clipse Presents: Re-Up Gang [click to read], in August to mixed reviews and mediocre sales, and Sandman struck out on his own determined to keep the C.A.N.N.O.N.S. name (which stands for Can’t Another Nigga Nowhere Own Nothing Seriously) – and trademark-worthy ad-lib – poppin’.
As the latest entry in DXNext sits down with the bad guys, Sandman talks about Philly’s mark in Hip Hop, family ties and how he’s now in the position that a young Sean Combs was back in the day.
Government: Daytwine Patterson.
Representing: Germantown (by way of The Jungle), Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.
Cough Up A Lung, Where I’m From…: While DJ Jazzy Jeff & The Fresh Prince may come to mind for most, Sandman’s city has much more to offer. “Schoolly D started hardcore Hip Hop here, and Will Smith got the first rap Grammy. I grew up in the golden era: two-tone Lee jeans, suede Pumas and shell-top Adidas. Philly Hip Hop was Hip Hop itself.”
Formal Introduction: “When I got introduced to Hip Hop, I wanted to fuck with all four elements. I was spray-painting, I was break-dancing, I would rap and I thought I could cut a little bit. But as I got older, I started taking the rap thing more seriously. To be an official rapper in Philly at that time, you had to be known in the streets, where everybody heard of you in the livest clubs, the dopest hangouts, all that. So I used to run around town smashing niggas. Period.”
Family Ties: Like most young’ns, Sandman discovered Hip Hop in the household, citing the sounds of Big Daddy Kane, Schoolly D and Will Smith among others as influences. However, it was his mother that perhaps had the most sway. “I fell in love with Hip Hop doing chores; I’m vacuuming to 'White Lines.' I just thank God for my mom being thorough [Laughs]. When I thought I could deejay, it was her needles I was fuckin’ up. She eventually became my first manager, putting me in the studio, the whole nine.”
The City Of Brotherly Love: Although some hardcore artists turn a blind eye toward their alternative counterparts, Philadelphia shows their support for all sounds. “Over here, it’s all music, so there’s not going to be no violence. Hip Hop has such a wide range of styles and flows. Good music is good music. Over here, you would wanna dance with [Lord Of The Underground’s] Here Come The Lords, but at the same time you weren’t gonna front on [De La Soul’s] 'Buddy.' And for cats like The Roots [click to read], I don’t think Black Thought gets credited for his lyrical skill. The only difference to me is that Thought doesn’t really dwell on the hardest aspects of the street, but he still can give you a ghetto portrait in my eyes.”
R-E-U-P-N-O-P-E: Though he may be known for slaying tracks with The Clipse, don’t expect any ill will toward his former crew. “I’ll give it to you in one breath: it was fun while it lasted.”
Getting Out Our Dreams: Ever the workhorse, Sandman is on a daily grind. “I just gave you Gianormous, and Number One Supplier hosted by Superstar Jay will be out in two weeks. My work ethic is at an all-time high, man. You know how cats say their swag is up? Fuck swag; I’m from Philly. I’m thorough (t-h-u-r-l-l) [Laughs].”