Homeboy Sandman, "First of a Living Breed"
Homeboy Sandman, "First of a Living Breed"
Homeboy Sandman can run over and around other rappers with his lyrical skills, and First of a Living Breed is proof. It's also proof of how hard it can be to hear someone come up short of the bar they set so high.

But his knack for words hasn't died. It's there at its most playful on the “hey girl” charmer "Couple Bars (Honey, Sugar, Darling, Sweetie, Baby, Boo)" when he's rapping "Wish I was your articles of clothes / Just a particle of cotton on your cones / That'd be the most wonderful destiny ever / Only possibility possibly better than being a stitch on your sweater / Is being human and me and you together."

It's also on display at its most serious on tracks like “Illuminati.” Homeboy can get cerebral and political without sounding preachy, but over the course of the track he covers race, drugs, technology, war, money, charity and religion. And just try to keep up -- not just with the steady, rapid-fire flow, but with how quickly he can move through the issues: “We used to beat on Bush but now he's not around / So people found a different bush to beat around / Favorite noise of boys in blue, ka-pow / You're bound to catch a round / You're almost lucky when they only beat you down.”

If anything, that song is a better lesson for kids (the moral is: think) than “For the Kids,” which says “you're not an ugly duckling” and doles out advice to turn off the TV and say no to drugs. It's hard to hate on something that comes from such a sweet, sincere place, but when you've just heard “Illuminati,” it's disappointingly easy.

There are a few more let downs, but none so bad that it damages Homeboy's reputation. First of a Living Breed shows a master lyricist still on his game.