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; Photo: N/A

Showbiz & A.G. (from D.I.T.C. fame) rep your classic DJ/rapper combo, complimenting one another like Stockton and Malone; Showbiz dishing the beats and AG finishing at the rim.

Hailing from the Bronx, Showbiz & A.G. were at the epicenter of hip-hop, just as the golden-era was getting under way. Their style is rooted in authenticity, and their street narratives offered a perspective that had previously gone unheard. What made them special was their ability to capture both the good and bad, accurately portraying life in the Bronx without having to pander to anyone.

Showbiz & A.G.’s debut Runaway Slave was a notable moment in rap. It didn’t steal headlines, but it marked Showbiz & A.G.’s arrival on the scene. In ’92 the political climate was tense, and Runaway Slave hit upon a number of controversial subjects. It told their story, but spoke for a nation of young black youth. It was thunder upon the scene, and helped turn rap into a powerful medium of expression.

More Than One Way Out The Ghetto” is a masterpiece. It tells the story of one man trying to escape the trappings of the ghetto. With little prospects he turns to dealing, and even though he knows it’s a dead end it’s all he has. It’s his primary source of income, but he never stops looking for redemption. Showbiz lays a killer jazz loop that adds a deep melancholy to the song. By the end A.G. explains that it’s his story, and that if he could find a way out so could you: [LISTEN]

More Than One Way Out The Ghetto

After dropping their debut, Showbiz & A.G. became stars in the underground. Their style of mixing funky breaks with witty lyrics became a standard in rap. True, they weren’t the only ones to do it, but they made it fresh and accessible to all. By the time they completed their follow-up Goodfellas they were already looked at as elder statesmen.

Goodfellas was a vast departure from their debut, it was notably darker both in beats and rhymes. No longer were they the benevolent brothers of rap, but instead soothsayers who told it like it was. It was ’95 and the streets were getting darker and the block more brutal, and Showbiz & A.G. adjusted to the turbulence to stay afloat; never losing sight of what was going on around them.

All Out” is one of the more telling songs on the album, capturing the dreary disenfranchisement they were feeling. Grim realities were setting in, but where a weaker lyricist would fold Showbiz & A.G. only got stronger. They poured themselves into their craft and reassured fans they were in it for the long haul: [LISTEN]

All Out

Like most rap duos, Show & A.G. would take long hiatuses between albums. They were burdened with making rap into a tangible career, which prior to that hadn’t been done before, so they were back to being teachers again; schooling up and coming lyricists on the fickle rap game and how to establish longevity.

The key for Show & A.G. is that they never compromised vision, not for fame or fortune. Despite a series of ups-and-downs, and long periods of creative drought Show & A.G. persevered. They’ve been making music together for over twenty years, and they did it by reminding themselves of what mattered most. Before the rap game they were brothers, and no amount of notoriety would change that. Temptation was everywhere, but family always came first.

The Bond” tells their story, but it also doubles as a cautionary tale; for lyricists to keep their priorities straight. Even after all these years they still look to add to the culture and teach rather than disparage and repress. They are unheralded living legends, and practitioners of a timeless style: [LISTEN]

The Bond