Over two decades ago our writer Matt Jost took a look at Edan’s debut album “Primitive Plus.” It was well regarded at the time and has aged well in the intervening years as hip-hop music has gone through several seismic shifts in styles and distribution formats. In fact the idea of having “Primitive Plus” on CD now instead of buying it digitally or streaming it on YouTube/Spotify/Apple/whatever probably seems absurd now. Two years ago I reviewed Homeboy Sandman’s “Anjelitu,” produced entirely by Aesop Rock, and I’m not sure buying it physically was even an option. I listened to it digitally then and still do today.
My point? Both of these artists have been around for decades and are still making music, but thanks to that changing landscape their 2018 collaboration “Humble Pi” slipped under my radar. It really shouldn’t have since Patrick Taylor shouted it out in his “year end” wrap up. There’s one good reason it did though — while Sandman stayed prolific with no less than 11 albums from 2007 to now, Edan went on a 13 year break while everything we knew changed. That’s not to say he didn’t have a guest appearance here and there — Mr. Lif, Count Bass D, Cut Chemist and Blu to name a few — but he just wasn’t releasing full length projects until this one. Only he knows the reasons why. (He did have a mixtape in 2009 if you want to count that, but even that’s still a nearly decade long gap.)
Just like I can’t give you a good reason for Edan fading largely into the background, I can’t give you a good reason to ignore “Humble Pi” the way I did. This is two unconventional and uncompromising artists exploring the definition of what rap music is. The hilarious “#NeverUseTheInternetAgain” might be even more true now than when it was written. The song’s chorus is punctuated by orgasmic moans, and while Avenue Q might argue that’s what the internet is for, the same service that made hashtags a thing is melting down before our eyes. Obviously I won’t tell you to NOT use the internet because how else would you be here (or stream their album) but I can’t say Homeboy’s antipathy toward social media is without merit.
Sandman: “Facebook friends are not my real amigos
Checking for comments and shares, jacking off my ego
Anything to get a fucking like
One day, I decided I should get a fucking life”
Despite “Humble Pi” in some respects being Edan’s big return, he’s still a shadowy figure here when not producing the tracks. There’s a genuine duet between the two on “Rock & Roll Indian Dance” trading off bars, and he also provides a segue between verses on “The Gut,” but he seems to prefer letting Sandman be the star. I’d complain about it but… it works? Given that Sandman has the ability to “Go Hard” to a ridiculous degree, I don’t mind him collaborating with any producer that gets him on that level. Aesop does. Edan does too.
In short everybody was right about both of these men. This might be a Barry Horowitz still “patting ourselves on the back” moment, but I think this might be a rare time we deserve it. Patrick Taylor, Matt Jost, Grant Jones and many other people here (least of all me) have sang the praises of Homeboy Sandman over the years. While there are fewer words written about Edan given he’s not nearly as prolific as his “Humble Pi” partner, you won’t find anything bad about him here either. The question therefore is not why it took me five years to get to this album — it’s why did it take them so long to make it, and when are we getting another one?