22. Homeboy Sandman, 'Hallways'
Homeboy Sandman songs are dense and word-drunk, spilling past the margins, demanding repeat listens. They're modern East Coast koans in perpetual communion with that old Freestyle Fellowship challenge: Can you find the level of difficulty in this? Hallways represents the latest unfurling from the Ivy League-educated Queens native, whose wry angst and self-reflection have filled up two full-length albums and five EPs since signing to Stones Throw in 2012. Over restless slaps and cartilage-cracking beats from Oh No, Jonwayne and Knxwledge, Sandman unleashes a therapist's office worth of anxiety fit for a lost rap soundtrack to Deconstructing Harry. He frets over infidelities, hypocrisies and loneliness; the smell of tobacco smoke and what his proximity to hipsters says about him. Obsessed with the noise in his head and the rapidly changing neighborhoods surrounding him, Homeboy re-works rap forms and functions into something truly personal. J.W.