R&B singer Sammie first emerged onto the music scene at the age of 12 in 1999 with his hit single “I Like It.” After releasing his debut album, Sammie decided to take a hiatus from the music industry and focus on school. After graduating from high school in 2005, the “Come With Me” singer returned with his self-titled second album.
Now, in 2011, Sammie is back as an independent artist, after making some major label changes. In an exclusive interview with Singersroom, Sammie opens up about his new situation, his self-discovery, his love life, his future plans, and more.
Singersroom: Who did you work with for the song “Gettin’ Em?”
Sammie: My man Darryl “Arpegio Flo” Cook, a young producer affiliated with the Bar Music Group, along with Troy Taylor, who is my mentor, my pops. A lot of people don’t know I’m in a new situation now. There’s no more Rowdy Records, that’s in the past. Interscope is in the past. I’m happy to be with Troy Taylor and I’m happy he’s executive producing my project. He’s more than just a producer; he’s like a father to me. He helps not just as an artist, but also as a man.
And then my man Ezekiel Lewis, Najja McDowell, and myself wrote the record. But like I said, it’s a club record, it’s a lot of fun, and I really think the people will appreciate it. I think it’s definitely going to do well in the clubs. This is for the DJs. This is for bringing fun back to R&B. And like I said, it’s so different for me. I think that’s why I’m so excited about it.
And I got 2 Chainz on it. I love 2 Chainz, and I feel like being in ATL… He’s not up-and-coming; he’s been around for a minute, but he’s finally getting that shine that I feel that he’s been deserved. To get that street appeal and that ATL vibe, I had to go to 2 Chainz for it.
Singersroom: What made you want to personally choose 2 Chainz to be on the track?
Sammie: I’ve been riding around, and his music gets me going crazy every time. So I was like, man I gotta reach out to 2 Chainz, and he blessed me with 16 crazy bars and I’m forever grateful.
Singersroom: So you mentioned that you’re in a new situation now with Troy Taylor. What led to that move, and where do you hope it brings you in the future?
Sammie: You know, it’s crazy. Long story short, Troy has been a fan of me since I was 12 years old… I didn’t know that. I met Troy two years ago in church actually, and he kept staring at me during the service. It was a little weird at first, but then we spoke when the service ended. He said, “Yo man, you have an amazing talent. And I always felt you have the potential to be great, but people didn’t know what to do, be it the sound or the song choice.” So we did an EP entitled “It’s Time” about early 2010, and I put it out for my fans. I didn’t do crazy promo around it. I just wanted to put out quality music for people.
After I got out of my Interscope situation, I felt like it was only right to go where I felt like I finally developed a sound. He pulls out the best in me, and pushes the envelope. Naturally I’m gifted as a vocalist, but he takes me to a whole other level, and I think that’s what’s missing in music â the person that’s going to innovate and do something different. And Troy Taylor, he kind of brings that out of me. So I just wanted to go to a whole new situation and to someone that is just as passionate about me and my gift as I am towards myself.
Singersroom: So you’re basically an independent artist now, right?
Sammie: Yeah I’m a free agent. I started my own company, Star Camp, two years ago. So I signed myself to myself just to make myself more of a boss and more in control of my career. I think I listened to so many different executives and A&Rs over my career, and when things don’t go right, ultimately the one that suffers will be the artist. The label moves on to the next thing. So I felt like, if things don’t go right this time, let it be my fault. Now I am in the process â I can’t speak on who â of closing a major deal, but I’m never going to wait on a label. I see my own vision, and I surround myself with a great team that is willing to execute by any means necessary. So I’m just jumpstarting and I’m going to hopefully make the label’s job a lot easier when it really goes off.
Singersroom: I definitely know where you’re coming from. I’ve spoken to other artists before where you go from major to indie, but it’s a good move because you get your creative control back.
Singersroom: And it’s been a great experience for a lot of them. Now you did mention you’re in the talks to maybe signing with someone, so clearly a major label isn’t off the table yet; it is still a possibility for you.
Sammie: Yeah it’s an option, but right now where I’m at in my life and my career, I don’t need a label. I have my brand and I have a fan base, and like I said, my team from the Bar Music Group to my management team Noontime, I just have people in place that can get everything that I need done. So I’m just going to focus on my career and take the first steps, and if I feel later on down the line that if I want to do a major situation, I will. But the game is forever changing. I feel like we have to adapt or get left behind. I love being in control and having creative control, and I’m out here! I’m in the club with these girls, partying with them. So I know what they want from me.
Singersroom: Right and I think that’s the best way as well.
Sammie: Yeah! The executives, no offense to them because they’re very necessary and needed, but there is a few that are at their desks all day and they don’t get it. They don’t know.
I just wanted to be my own man, in my own situation and take my career into my own hands. Ultimately, it depends on how hard I go. Whether I go to a major or not, I still have to go hard and believe, and show and prove myself.
Singersroom: Speaking of Twitter, you kind of disappeared off of it for a good couple of months. What happened?
Sammie: I’ve just been in the gym since March real heavy, getting into shape and taking piano lessons and making sure my voice is right. I’ve also been improving my talent to developing the sound for this project that I’m working on. I’m finally where I feel like I need to be, so it’s time to get up and jumpstart the whole situation. I’m excited about it!
Singersroom: So was the break a conscious move of refocusing on your career?
Sammie: It was personal, and very random. I was in LA working with Kevin McCall on my album, and I just decided to stop tweeting because I felt like we sometimes use Twitter for the wrong thing. But for artists, it’s really just a direct contact with the fans. I had nothing new at that time and space to tell them, aside from “good morning,” “be positive,” and “be great,” because I’m a positive person and I always exude that. But from a career standpoint, I wanted to reach out when the photo shoot was done, when I had the album pretty much done, when I had a record that I believed I was ready to go hard and push for… I don’t club for no reason. I only club when I have to if I’m celebrating something, but I just wanted to have a purpose. My fans deserve that from me. In 2010, I gave a lot of mixtapes out â two mixtapes and an EP. I just wanted to take a break from the social world for a minute. There’s a lot of negativity on there as well as positive feedback. I just wanted to clear my mind by myself, and then come back the man that I want to be, and the singer that I want to be.
Singersroom: And why did you feel like this was the right time?
Sammie: This is the right time. Fourth quarter. The industry is about to shut down for two more months, and then everything is really rolling at the top of 2012. That’s why I feel like now is good time for me to just independently put my own record out and let them have it and marinate on it.
Then around Valentine’s Day, I have this crazy love record that I can’t wait to drop also. I want to flood them with not just music, but great quality music that’s going to last a lifetime. Not just a trend that’s going to come and go.
Singersroom: So something classic basically.
Sammie: Yeah that’s it! That’s it! And I think sometimes to do that, you have to step away from the social networks and the blogs and all that stuff for a minute. Just find yourself.
I know Kanye had that unfortunate situation with Taylor Swift… He went out to Hawaii for like six months to a year, and created a beautiful project, in my opinion. I’m a big Kanye fan. And I think as an artist, you have to do that. Find your inspirations and what’s that next thing, how can I innovate, how can I create a Sammie sound that inspires others to go hard on their project. That’s what I’m all about.
Singersroom: So you setting the trend, rather than following it.
Sammie: Exactly! Exactly!
Singersroom: You mentioned earlier that you had actually met up with Kevin McCall to work on your third album “Coming of Age” before your Twitter hiatus. How is the project coming along so far?
Sammie: To be honest, I’ve never stopped recording, but the album is pretty much finished. I stay recording because I pretty much feel like you can always outdo yourself. You go in and out of these stages as human beings and where we are in life, so it inspires me to write different things. But for the album, I’ve been recording since March; that’s when I officially started the material for the album “Coming of Age.” I’ve recorded about 40 records since March.
I’ve been in the studio real heavy, doing this Twitter hiatus. As well as before the album, I’m going to do a six-song EP, which will have “Gettin’ Em” on it as well. Different variety of songs â midtempos and ballads â and I just wanted to kind of touch on every element of emotion, from happy, sad, sex, heartbreak, pain, and then the album. I don’t want to rush. I know my fans have been very patient, and I want to say thank to you to them. But I don’t want to rush it because I want it to be right and I want to touch the masses with my music. But I’m definitely about to flood the market with quality music that I think they’re going to love and enjoy.
Singersroom: Wow. You’ve been working on a lot of projects in this short amount of time.
Sammie: Yeah! We got the “Gettin’ Em” with 2 Chainz rolling Monday, and the EP is out after that. Then you’ll get “Coming of Age”. But “Gettin’ Em” is definitely out on Monday, so that’s for the end of this year. Then early next year, you’ll get the EP.
Singersroom: Who else have you been working with besides Kevin McCall?
Sammie: I worked with Kevin McCall, Troy Taylor, man so many people. I’m kind of drawing a blank here. Troy Taylor has a lot of young talent under the SongBook umbrella, as well as the Bar Music Group, so a lot of up-and-coming artists. Trey Songz’ little brother is actually producing. He has this crazy record that I did, and I got a crazy feature that I can’t talk about just yet. But I’m excited for that too.
This album is the first time I have multiple features on it too. Usually, I do like one or two, but this one will have like four to five, and they’re people that are really elite to me. I’m just happy that they’re going to be part of the project.
—— By: Interview By Connie Tang