Introducing ‘Notes from Mr. Sandman‘ – a column slapping a spotlight on lyricists overlooked, under appreciated, or just plain criminally slept on. Or like a man named Nas once said, “I never sleep, cause sleep is the cousin of death.” Enter Mr. Sandman with what y’all missed while chasing the REM dragon. 

PackFM is a natural on the microphone, an East Coast underground veteran veteran who exhibits poise under pressure.

Letting his intuitions roam free and cultivating a mindful perspective are principle philosophies, ones that have translated into two stellar full-lengths and a die hard following. His respect for the craft goes back to a time when lyricism was at a premium, and he’s always challenging himself to learn more.

“I wrote my first rap ever because I heard A Tribe Called Quest‘s “Check the Rhime” and I wanted to be cool like them,” said PackFM. “Before that my friends and I would just battle each other with the rhymes from other people’s rap songs, like my boy would spit a Big Daddy Kane verse and I’d come back with an EPMD verse. But when I heard “Check the Rhime” I said to myself, I want to make my own shit like that. I had my first verse within 15 minutes.”

Born in Brooklyn, PackFM first cut his teeth in the underground battle circuit. He won numerous competitions including the 88HipHop MC Battle, Braggin Rites and the Everlast Harlem Lyricist Championship.

There is no mercy when PackFM enters the cypher. He is a warhorse who attacks with precision and grace, an efficient assassin who breathes fire. Before even releasing a proper full-length he was already a legend.

“I never sit down and write,” said PackFM when asked about his writing process. “I compose rhymes in my head over time. The only time I’ll actually just sit and ‘write’ is if I’m actually in the studio and I have to record that day and I don’t have anything finished. But overall I make up I’d say 90% of my stuff in my head as I go throughout the day.”

“It could be while I’m waiting for the subway or taking a shower. I’m always freestyling to myself and if something good comes up then I’ll try my best to remember it for later. If I’m working on a conceptual song, then it’s usually easier because I can just think of all the things I feel need to be said and just find a way to turn them into raps.”

Living up to a reputation like the one PackFM created can be too much for some lyricists; countless MCs have flourished in the battle scene only to flounder when it came time to pen a proper release. PackFM avoided that trap by tapping into his own personal files. He knew that the underground is its own world, and that to extend his reach he needed to come to the table with something more substantial. Posturing is easy, but to be honest and real takes time and discipline.

I Can’t Win” off his debut whutduzFMstand4? is a frank depiction of a struggling rapper on the rise, the endless grind full of thankless nights. To be vulnerable and forthcoming isn’t typical in the rap game, and his shameless honesty proved he was more than just a battle rapper: [LISTEN]

Discussing industry woes on your debut album is an unorthodox move, but one that showed where PackFM’s state of mind was. He’s wise beyond his years, and the type of knowledge he was dropping was a refreshing reminder of life’s many ups and downs. Alternative views only make hip-hop culture more vibrant, and PackFM is a perfect example of how integrity matters.

“There are so many lanes and there’s room for everybody,” said PackFM. “Nobody is forced to listen to anything. If you don’t like one type of music, ignore it and keep it out of your life. As far as the lyrical direction, it’s just going to get simpler I feel.”

“Rapping well is not easy at all. Let’s put it like this. Can you imagine what music would be like if we only made room for pianists who could play on a classical level? Not everyone enjoys complex rapping and not everyone is capable of it. Let these people have their lane. At the same time, the artists who happen to be extremely talented at writing should be given the same opportunities and exposure.”

PackFM’s sophomore album I Fucking Hate Rappers is a scathing report on the fallacy that has consumed the rap scene. The title says it all — a diatribe against what he viewed as a fleeting and fickle operation; the circular banter, the senseless posturing, and the constant networking that ultimately goes nowhere.

All those empty gestures infuriated him, and inspired him to clear the noise. As a complete project it isn’t fixated on hate alone, it’s simply taking his beef and displaying it without an ounce of shame. Exactly how it should be.

On “I Fucking Like Everything” PackFM shows his sense of humor. He knows the impression he’s giving off, but is quick to counter assumptions with laughs. A skill that reflects tact and ingenuity: [LISTEN]

PackFm is an unheralded vet. There is a maturity that has been with him since the beginning, and even after all these years he’s still been able to maintain his edge. The advantage is that as he’s gotten older he’s settled into a style that fits his perspective like a glove. And by the sound of his latest single “Legendary” he still has plenty left in the tank: [LISTEN]

“These days there’s just more confidence when it comes to making songs,” said PackFm. “I know what works and what doesn’t. I know what to say to get the reactions I want from listeners. I know when a verse needs to be longer or when I’ve said enough. Making music for so long, you have to study and learn from everything you do.”

“You also have to be purposeful. If you’re doing a song and you want to do a video for that song, make sure the words you use are vivid and can support visuals. I guess I just try my best to use the experience I’ve gained to my advantage and that’s how I try to stay sharp.”