Aesop Rock & Homeboy Sandman :: Lice Two - Still Buggin' :: Stones Throw Records
as reviewed by Steve 'Flash' Juon

[Lice Two - Still Buggin'] "Ten years since I stood still
Started on my good foot but runnin out of good will
Still got a sneaker full of pebbles
and a Jenny full of demos and a pocket full of anvils
My dogs are riddled with self-inflicted bullet wounds
I mixed the bee pollen with the free ballin
Cat's already fed up with my lifestyle choices
I ain't even stop pretending that I don't hear voices
Yet, I'm stranded on the internet
Spilling all my innards in the interviews - turn into a silhouette
Running out of substance
At least authorities running low on my thumbprints
I had to break out from the function
'fore my unlimited Metro card turned to a pumpkin"
- Homeboy Sandman

I suppose it would be too easy to say "What are you waiting for? IT'S FREE! Go! GO NOW!" Don't think I'm not tempted though. I spend all day writing to eke out a meager existence that barely pays the bills, so I'm not sure it makes sense to spend a whole bunch of extra time explaining to people who already like hip-hop before coming to this website that a free Aesop Rock and Homeboy Sandman EP is worth your time to download. Let me go ahead and do what's not necessary though anyway.

First of all this is a sequel to last year's Lice EP, which we probably should have covered at some point yet it slipped through the cracks. (That whole "one man can't do it all himself" thing rears its ugly head.) Second of all if you like artists who embody that DIY indie-as-f#$k vibe of the mid 1990's to early 2000's, you can hardly go wrong with either Aesop Rock OR Homeboy Sandman. The whole concept of an "underground" in music generally or hip-hop specifically is probably going the way of the dinosaurs this century, but "Lice Two" still manages to feel like two rappers who are relentlessly unwilling to accept any compromises in the name of commercialism. With beats by Rock himself along with Dan Hayden, Mondee, SoberMindedMusiC and RTNC this five track release hits all the right notes. Combine the two "Lice" releases together and you'd have an album worth stocking on the shelves, although if you want that first volume there's a vinyl album you can pick up.

Even though Rock is and has been the kind of inoffensive intellectual emcee I like for a while now - smart but not smug and elitist - it's Sandman who has really been creeping up on me for a while now. The "Oatmeal Cookies" bars he drops above may be my favorite of the entire EP, but he actually starts out the whole presentation with fire right away on "Zilch." As he and Rock trade hot tags and never give the beat any room to breathe, the obvious camraderie between the two shines even as Sandman proves himself to be the bridge between the keyboard clicking clique and the street smart entrepeneurs. He won't sing or AutoTune but he still knows what's really going on around your way-ay-ayyyyyyy.

"Just ahead, I throw a left for every gambler layin a bet
and every child that wet the bed
I check my texts - who's tryin to swing an ep?
Oh wait that's just my ex who's trying to lay an egg
The sky is changing colors, I'll be up to here in debt
When death become us I check porno on ya Tumblr
I keep time by countin summers
And teach ya how to do the wop without a fee
My name is Homeboy Sand, my style is a lock without a key"

Let me not knock Rock in any way though, as the yin and yang of this tandem is akin to MURS and Slug in all the right ways. Each time I feel like Sandman could be the stronger soldier, Aesop bodies the track right back and shows there's really no weak link.

"Oddworld bogmen, slog through toxins
Groggy, squash all goblins, promptly
Fruit of loom, relocating stickers on his Rubik's Cube
Wildlife showing signs of ruined doom for you and you and you and you
Shoes made of wah-wah pedals
That turn a walk to the wah-wah, the gods and devils
I'm at the table breaking bread with both the wicked and the righteous
It's hard to tell the difference through a history of violence"

From the shaken up aersol cans permeating the backdrop of "Couple Things" to the rolling guitar backdrop of "Mud" getting as dirty and gritty as the song title and chorus, you'll be down with the musical water that meshes Sand and Rock together. "Stop the Bleeding" may be the final track but it's the exact opposite of what you'll want here. These metaphoric cuts slice you up but don't leave scars - just the desire to hit rewind and relive the whole thing. So basically, what I was trying to say at the beginning is still true - "WHAT ARE YOU WAITING FOR?"

Music Vibes: 8.5 of 10 Lyric Vibes: 8.5 of 10 TOTAL Vibes: 8.5 of 10

Originally posted: October 4, 2016