Sandpeople: Long Story, Short…

[16 June 2009]

By Andrew Martin

The Pacific Northwest has steadily made an impact on hip-hop over the years, starting perhaps with the huge pop-radio single “Baby Got Back” by Sir Mix-A-Lot. But it’s been in recent years that the region has picked up the pace. Groups like Blue Scholars, Common Market, and Sweatshop Union continue to keep the Northwest in the underground’s eye with solid albums and consistency. And following in that tradition is Sandpeople, a 10-member collective that just dropped its nine-track EP Long Story, Short….

But, like many efforts from groups with a slew of members, this one falls short in being able to distinguish one member from the next. One of the sole exceptions, though, is Sapient. This producer/emcee, who has worked with Aesop Rock and Slug in the past, crafted every track on here and it’s an understatement to say he put his stamp on them. From the brooding balladry of “The Dapper Mob” to earth-shattering bangers like “Strands”, Sapient has shown he is capable of doing it all. Also, his drums, particularly on “Strands” and the suicide-thought-laden “Goodbye World”, are absolute perfection. Sapient’s work on the mic shouldn’t be overlooked either. His knack for rapping smoothly on the beat without resorting to spitting nonsense is to be admired.

At the same time, though, that is when the aforementioned problem rears its head. Aside from some flow and slight vocal variances, you will find that most of the emcees sound far too alike. Sure, they are all equally talented and boast some nice storytelling and wordplay skills, though they are fully capable of spitting duds, too. And perhaps it’s a testament to how tightly-knit this crew is that they all flow off one another so naturally. Yet, with all of that in mind, Long Story, Short… would just be a much more enjoyable listen if you could easily tell which member you are listening to. And they could stand to put some more effort into their hooks, which have the tendency to sound rehashed.

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