You probably best remember Philadelphia MC Sandman (aka Sandcannon) from his role as 1/4 of The Re-Up Gang, with The Clipse and Ab Liva (of Major Figgas). After leaving the group in 2008 over artistic differences, Sandman has been on his solo grind, releasing street-oriented mixtapes Philadelphia Ego, Gianormous and Heart of the City. What may not be well-known is that Sandman had been doing his thing well before meeting Pusha and the Re-Up Gang, from running his own imprint, Cannons Inc. to a former deal with Interscope.
Front-Free: First, I wanna thank you for taking the time to sit down and rap with us for a hot minute, I know you’re hard at work promoting Cannons Inc. and upcoming projects.
Sandman: Oh, it’s not a problem, my nigga, this is actually my first exclusive interview since I got out of prison in January so I definitely wanted to take this opportunity to be heard out here.
FF: Word, thanks again and congrats on making it home. OK, so let’s get into it. I think many fans of The Re-Up Gang like myself who know how much you brought to the table understand your reasoning for leaving the group, but at the same time feel like there is no Re-Up without the gravity you added to their tracks. Are you still on speaking terms with the rest of The Gang and do you foresee any possibility of working with them in the future?
Sandman: Niggas squandered a great opportunity…you know it, the world know it. I hope they don’t think that the world don’t see that the shit got squandered. As far as speaking terms, I haven’t spoken to Pusha or Malice since the split. I’ve spoken to Ab Liva twice. When the split happened, I didn’t know if niggas would see my reasoning, but at the time, it was more important to put myself in a better situation. If you heard the Re-Up Gang album, it was titled “The Clipse Presents…” NAH BITCH…Re-Up Gang presents the Re-Up Gang!!! When it’s all said and done, I’m not a dick-eater, I’m not a follower, I’m a leader, so I had to go. I thought the Re-Up Gang was gonna take me and Cannons Inc. to another level and when I saw it not going that direction, I had to go. How did Re-Up Gang drop 3 classic mixtapes and not release one fuckin’ video? But I got a joint on my upcoming mixtape called “Straight To It” that’s gonna get into that whole situation.
When Pusha met me, he had 5 of my CDs in his hand. People may or may not know that [The Clipse’] first mixtape was actually my ninth. So he knew how I got down off top and approached me with the Re-Up Gang idea, so I really don’t know of any Re-Up Gang without Sandman. The shit was built around me. In fact, I see my influence in Pusha T’s flow now.
Sandman: Go back and listen to “Grindin'” and compare that flow to his flow now. You’ll hear Sandman all in there, but I’m flattered. You can print that.
FF: I’ve seen “Reunite The Re-Up Gang” on a couple of blogs out there. Is that even a possibility at this point?
FF: A lot of groups we see in hip-hop present themselves as being closer than they really are, but when they split, we hear a different story. Was the Re-Up Gang really close before the split?
Sandman: Oh yeah…me and Malice used to read the Bible together in the back of the tour bus. He cried when my grandmother got cancer because of the pain he had experienced with the death of his own grandmother. That’s how real it was. But at the end of the day, the Re-Up Gang is something The Clipse used to get them back to the streets where they started at.
FF: Tell us about Cannons, Inc. What do you have on the stove at present?
Sandman: I got my solo mixtape titled Mt Crushmore droppin’ soon. That’s gonna be all instrumentals; everything from “Victory” by B.I.G. which I went crazy on to “Think About It” by Special Ed, which already dropped on the ‘net. I did a joint to “Xplosive”and soon as I left the studio, I got the news that Nate Dogg had passed, which was crazy.
FF: You looking to go through a major label?
Sandman: Nah, mainly just looking for distribution on a finished product. I did the major label thing with Interscope before Steve Stoute got fired and had a verbal agreement with Diddy to sign to Bad Boy, but that was of course before he hit the club with Shyne, so you know…
FF: Understood, understood…so who else should we look out for from Cannons Inc.? I know a lot of the guest appearances on your mixtapes have been fire, so give us the full roster.
Sandman: I got Housewife, my blood sister dropping her joint called I Am HDub, she dope as shit. Other artists on Cannons Inc. are Cheech Myers, Spazz Cannon, Kawshen, Sock, Slash, Deuce Sceem, and Eddie Somerset. I’m tellin’ you my roster’s about to run through the whole industry…easy. Also, look out for that Cannons Inc. compilation The Unstoppable. Check out the website for details.
*NEW This Week: Download Armed & Dangerous off the upcoming Mt. Crushmore*
FF: Listeners of your solo work can definitely tell you’re taking it back to the glory days of hip-hop, yet mixing more of a gangsta rap vibe in there. Who are your biggest influences and who, if anybody, are you listening to currently?
Sandman: I’ma show my age with this one, but my biggest influences are LL Cool J, Big Daddy Kane, Kool G Rap, KRS-One, Schooly D and Cool C. DJ Jazzy Jeff and The Fresh Prince’ “Girls Of The World Ain’t Nothin’ But Trouble” and LL’s “I Need Love” made me write about women. Kool G Rap showed me the hustle shit because everything he rapped about I saw in my uncles. Listening to KRS taught me how to tell a story. Kane taught me how to be metaphorical in my rhymes, and Schoolly D? Just live Philly shit. I think you combine all these styles from back then and you get my style today.
As far as who I’m listening to today, not a whole lot of people. I listen to Rick Ross, though…by the way, I tip my hat to Meek Mill for getting signed to Ross’ label and doing his thing. Meek put in a lot of work up here on the Philly scene so I’m happy to see him come up. Ace Hood joint “Hustle Hard” is dope and there’s a new video I just saw called “Yonkers” by a dude named Tyler the Creator where he eats a beetle (laughs).
FF: Is hip-hop dead to you and if so, what’s the remedy?
Sandman: Nah…hip-hop ain’t dead at all. The versatility in hip-hop is dead. The diversity in hip-hop is dead. Hip-hop is like somebody pressed the repeat button a bunch of times. Being yourself is dead, so hip-hop is stuck in a hall of mirrors where everything looks the same. If anything, tell your readers this: My man Sandman told me that when a nigga is on the mic, it’s one of two things: he’s either being the nigga he is or the nigga he wants to be. It’s nothing else. When I was recording a solo joint “Just A B-Boy” for The Re-Up, Pharrell actually pulled me out of the booth and told me “that love you have for hip-hop? Don’t lose that”. I haven’t.
VIDEO: “Anchor” by Sandman
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