I recently caught up with platinum-selling artist, Sammie, best known for his Gold-selling album entitled “From the Bottom to the Top.” The album included two Top 10 hits, “I Like It” and “Crazy Things I Do."
“Hardball,” a single from the 2001 So So Def soundtrack also featuring Lil’ Wayne, Lil’ Bow Wow and Lil’ Zane. R&B single, “You Should Be My Girl” produced by Jazze Pha featuring Sean Paul of Youngbloodz. The song peaked at the No. 2 on BET’s 106 & Park, solidifying Sammie as a staple teen heartthrob.
His second single, “Come with Me,” peaked at No. 3 on the Billboard Hot 100 singles, premiered on 106 & Park and was inspired by Michael Jackson’s music video “Stanger in Moscow.”After a brief break, Sammie returned and shot up the charts in 2008 with his feature on Soulja Boy’s Top 10 Hot 100 single, “Kiss Me Thru the Phone.”
In the summer of 2009, Sammie released “Swag&B,” a fully-loaded mix tape featuring Atlanta’s top mix tape D.J. Holiday and some of the year’s sexiest songs covered by yours truly. With more than 100,000 downloads in its first week. Sammie now talks to me about his latest mix tape, ”Insomnia” which talks about his many restless nights on his journey from child stardom to a R&B Prince in search of the industries many thrones. With a new-found style, drive for success, and vocal talent, the re-emerging singer-songwriter is ready for you to re-discover him. The 16-track offering is Sammie’s most intimate and honest work to date, with heart-felt ballads and soul-pouring illustrations of his nightly insomnia. With a more mature fashion-based expression and truthful approach in his music. Read my exclusive interview with Sammie below:
Examiner (Anthony Bowles): How did you ring in 2013?
Sammie: “I brought it in at church, and spent it with my family…I usually party, so I wanted to do something different and start the new year the right way. I’m 25 now and I’ve done the whole pop the bottles thing, but now I have a lot of expectations this year for myself and for those goals to come reality I think I have to change some of my habits.”
Examiner (Anthony Bowles): Did you have a New Years resolution?
Sammie: “I don’t do resolutions, I am the type that always tries to be the best everyday and to become a better “me” as a songwriter, artist, and a man.”
Examiner (Anthony Bowles): How would you say that you have evolved over the years from a teen R&B artist to an adult artist?
Sammie: “I grew up substantiality! I think to be a great artist you have to go through a few things in life, I’ve had a rollercoaster type life and I convey that in my music, and with that said those downs have evolved me into a great songwriter and I’ve become more transparent and confident in myself, but most importantly knowing what I have to offer and my purpose in this industry…and with me I do that with substance and passion.”
Examiner (Anthony Bowles): What’s the hardest part of transitioning from teen to adult music?
Sammie: “It wasn’t as frustrating as I thought it was going to be because I’ve had the luxury of not staying in the public eye in “mainstream” terms as frequently as other child stars. Coming out in 1999/2000 and then taking a break to finish high school, and after that I released my sophomore album in 2005/2006, so being that it was big gaps between my projects it put me in the position to grow up and live a little. The next time the world saw me I was 21 with “Kiss Me Thru the Phone” with Soulja Boy in 2009. So every time you see me, it’s kind of a different me as opposed to watching me grow up.”
Examiner (Anthony Bowles): How would you say the music industry has changed since your debut?
Sammie: “I think in 2013 music is more disposable than it’s ever been in life. I just put out a mix tape this past September and people are already ready for the next thing, and they do that with albums too, which is crazy because I remember when artists used to tour off an album and live off of it for two years. It’s also crazy how easily obtainable it is now as well with the new technology now, people simply just download their music now without supporting it.”
Examiner (Anthony Bowles): How has your career been since you parted ways with Rowdy Records?
Sammie: “I was on an indie situation, so what that situation has enabled me to do was start my won company Star Camp Music, and really helped me learn the ends and the outs. As the singer, sometimes you can be very detached from the business side, so now I’m able to run my career and put myself in the position of power of influence, influence young talent, and quarterback my own career. When you’re signed to a label and you release a single and it doesn’t work, they just put you on the shelf…it wasn’t your decision, and now you’re the one who has to suffer the consequences of someone else’s decision.”
Examiner (Anthony Bowles): How is it working with Star Camp now and how important is it to have creative control over your music?
Sammie: “It’s very important, this year I will be signed to a major label and at this point I’m just weighing my options…but I put myself in a position where they can trust my opinion because I’ve been doing it for three years solely with my camp. Another great thing is that my crew is like family and very small talented team. It has been a great experience and I’m just ready to take it to another level.”
Examiner (Anthony Bowles): What are three things you want your fans to know about you?
Sammie: “One, that I am God fearing man, everything begins and starts with his. Second, I am spontaneous, I have skydived, I want to go in a shark tank this year, and live life to the fullest. Lastly, I love to love, I enjoy making people happy, smiling, and keeping the energy positive!”
Examiner (Anthony Bowles): How do you think it’s possible to stay relevant in the industry as competitive as it is?
Sammie: “I think it depends on what you consider relevancy…from a musical standpoint, it’s hard because everything is not going to be on the radio and have that “mainstream look” but I think as far as being relevant in the press, it’s easy because now we have social networks particularly Twitter and starting Twitter beefs and what not (laughs). It’s so many ways to spark up some sort of controversy if you want people to talk about you for a day or two. Surpass all of that, I just want my music to matter and have people listen to it.”
Examiner (Anthony Bowles): What was one of your most surreal moments in your career?
Sammie: “I went overseas earlier last year to Abu Dubai and Dubai and they recognized me and knew my music and really showed me just how big music is all around the world…music is the universal language. I called my mom and couldn’t believe it still that they knew me over there.”
Examiner (Anthony Bowles): Explain the work of the Sammie Youth Foundation and how important it is to give back and what it means to you?
Sammie: “I really thankful for my publicist and manager for all of their hard work…I’ve always had a way with words and being in a positive position I wanted to use that to influence the younger population. We go to inner-city schools in Atlanta and talk to kids about staying in school and getting a free education while they can, encourage extracurricular activities, and bullying issues.”
Examiner (Anthony Bowles): Your new mix tape, “Insomnia”…What’s the meaning behind the title?
Sammie: “I was literally suffering from insomnia to the point where I had to take ambien a sleeping pill, I then put a track on the mix tape called, “Ambien Nights.” I was thinking that I’m 25 and I’m working on my third album, going into a new major situation, and one day want to get married, and all of these things kept me up at night…I went to my computer and started writing everything that I felt, and I gave my project the title “Insomnia” because I thought it was best fitting.”
Examiner (Anthony Bowles): What is one of your favorite tracks?
Sammie: “I would say “Quarter Century” because for some reason I had like a quarter century crisis when I turned 25, I couldn’t believe it and I realized that time really does fly when you’re having fun and chasing a dream. That record really shows where my mind frame is as a 25 year old man…after that record I would then have to go with the record “Insomnia” itself, because it’s so vulnerable and powerful, the production is great on it and it gives me chills when I listen to it.”
Examiner (Anthony Bowles): What does this mix tape mean to you?
Sammie: “This was the first project that actually had a theme to it…It tells a story and what kind of mind frame I was in at that time. It’s also kind of like an audio film, it’s very real and precious to me and for it to impact people in such a way that it has, it tells me that people appreciate genuine vulnerability and transparency. It’s my baby and my free gift to my fans, and I’m fortunate that it was downloaded 500,000 times with no gimmicks , I didn’t have to leak a nude picture or anything crazy for anyone to download it (laughs). I was really big on letting it spread organically with my fans.”
Examiner (Anthony Bowles): Are you seeing anyone special?
Sammie: “I am, I’m dating someone…we’re trying to work out some kinks, we’ve been on and off for about two & a half years…my heart is currently taking.”
Examiner (Anthony Bowles): Is this someone that you see yourself marrying?
Sammie: “No doubt, I’m not at that age of just dating to date, I’m in the process of finding an equal. I see her having the qualities and traits that I would like my wife to have.”
Examiner (Anthony Bowles): What is your advice for singers/rappers trying to make it and pursue music?
Sammie: “Have some type of spiritual foundation, with this industry you will have so many obstacles and barricades that you have to overcome…I don’t think that support from family and friends are going to just be enough. Understand that you are the label; you have to do the work! No one is going to go as hard as you! It takes a lot of groundwork, don’t think that getting a deal is the end point, that is only half the battle, and most importantly don’t let anyone tell you no!”
Examiner (Anthony Bowles): What’s currently on your i-Pod?
Sammie: “I’m really liking the Kendrick Lamar project, I think that is an amazing body of work and something that was really missing in hip-hop as far as story telling goes. The beautiful Brandy, I love Miguel’s album, the T.I. “Trouble man” album–I have so much respect for him. I also listen to anything Kanye West does, he can’t go wrong! He can talk about ice cream or something crazy and I think it’s amazing (laughs) I’m a little biased.”
Examiner (Anthony Bowles): Lastly, what can your fans expect in 2013 from you?
Sammie: “We are working on an EP as well as an official third album and I’m excited that I am finally back in the studio working on an album and not just a mix tape. I merged companies, so Star Camp Music is now partnered with Song Books Entertainment the same company that Trey Songz is with, and working on my album and give my fans what they deserve.”
“Insomnia” provides an experience that is equally great in sound, lyrical content and highlighting intelligent vocal arrangements. This project showcases his growth from a child star who has established his mark as an industry vocalist and songwriter. Download "Insomnia" now and keep up with Sammie on Twitter @princesammie