R&B veteran Sammie has been in the game since his early teens, breaking out in 1999 with the hit single, “I Like It.” But, following his initial success, he stepped away for a bit of a hiatus to focus on his personal growth. He’s back, though. His most recent project, the 2012 mixtape Insomnia, garnered thousands of downloads online, which he would follow with other teasers, including the Valentine’s Day leak “Merlot”.
With his re-emergence, BallerStatus.com got a chance to chop it up with Sammie to discuss his beginnings in the music biz, what he’s been doing while away from the spotlight, what it was like working with a young Lil Wayne (in the early 2000’s), and his thoughts on today’s R&B genre.
Your last mixtape, Insomnia, it’s not like anything on the radio right now, in the fact that it’s pure R&B. You came out in the era of pure vocal talents, so what made you want to make a pure mixtape singing? Rather then not just singing monotone over some hip-hop beats?
I’m all about being innovative and staying true to my fan base. You won’t see me moving from trend to trend.
That mixtape was really like an album. What made you want to give away such quality music for free?
I make everlasting music, time pieces. I always know I can out do myself, so I’m not emotionally attached to my music to the point I can’t let go.
How do you feel about the current state of R&B right now?
Right now, true R&B is not existent. I mean, I appreciate what artists like Miguel and a few others have done recently.
As of right now, what is your label situation looking like? And are there any new albums or mixtapes on the way?
I’m signed to Starcamp right now, which is my label, actually. As far as new projects go, I won’t be doing any albums until I find a label that will nurture them. I’m trying to create a blueprint to where we as artists work on things and make them right before we just put it out.
In one of your latest tracks, “Merlot”, you were pouring your heart out for real, like a real deep confession. Did that song come from real personal experience?
“Merlot” was written from a real experience, just like the rest of my music. It’s similar to the song I did for Tank, “Next Breath”. I feel as though men have a hard time expressing themselves, this was for the ladies.
You just dropped a video for “Put It In”, which features Blake Kelly. How did that collaboration come about?
Blake Kelly is my little big brother. I believe in his talent, so I reached out to him. I sent him the record and he sent it right back with a hot 16. The finished product came out great.
“Merlot” and “Put It In” going to make your next upcoming album?
No, my future projects will have all new music. “Merlot” was released for the ladies on Valentine’s Day, and “Put it in” is just for the Insomnia mixtape.
How will your new project differ from Insomnia?
None of my music will differ too much from project to project, because I believe in substance. I want my listeners to be able to feel emotion from my records and that won’t change.
When you entered the scene in 1999 with “I Like It,” you set the bar high for a lot of these upcoming singers, sales wise and talent wise. Currently, there aren’t anymore kid singers. Why do you think they’ve basically disappeared in the R&B genre?
I was blessed to come in the game as early as I did and be successful. I have a great team. I put out an album when I was 14. These days labels don’t nurture young artists anymore, they just throw them out there and expect them to be successful.
When you first started at such a young age, do you feel like it took away from your childhood or added to it?
I got signed in 1999, the same year they moved my family and I to Atlanta, and I began to record and go to school at the same time. It was a great experience, I wouldn’t change it. Working hard for what I wanted and actually receiving it taught me something at a young age that I take with me to this day.
After the deal, hit singles, and gold albums, you kind of took a hiatus from the music industry. What was Sammie doing in the early to late 2000’s?
I took some time to focus on school and graduation before I returned to making music. Being a teenager in the industry is a lot to handle and I couldn’t pick one or the other. I took time to find myself while I still had the option to do so.
Do the Trey Songz comparisons get annoying, especially since you came out way before him?
No, it’s not annoying. It’s just funny to me, we do have some similarities. Once I find a good situation with the right label and I put another album out, people will be able to make the distinction between myself and other male artists out there, there’s a substantial difference.
You linked up with a young Lil Wayne, Lil Zane and Lil Bow Wow back in 2001 for that “Hard Ball” collabo. Did you ever think back then, you might be on the same track with one of the most successful rappers of all time?
Well, Wayne knew he was a legend back then, he knew he would be great and I looked up to that. Bow Wow had gone on to do some great things as well. I’m grateful to have had that experience to come together with them and make a movie.
Do you still talk to Wayne? Any chance for a reunion song 12 years later?
I haven’t spoken to Wayne in years. I respect him as an artist, and I respect his hustle, but our collab was business. I understand he has his people who he rocks with, as I have my own team around me as well. It’s nothing personal. There might be a chance of us coming together on a project in the future.
Who is the baddest chick in the game right now?
Nobody can deny that Rihanna is killing the game right now. She has a Navy, she’s a trendsetter. But, if I had to pick my #1 female right now, I would have to say Skylar Diggins. She’s beautiful, smart and talented. From what I can tell, she’s not into a lot of extra, she stays true to herself. She just signed with Roc Nation and is making major moves.
Who are Sammie’s biggest musical influences?
My biggest influences are #1: Stevie Wonder. I feel he’s arguably one of the best songwriters of all time. R. Kelly is the king of R&B, so of course, he would be on there. Just the fact that he’s been able to do everything from gospel records to tracks with Young Jeezy is crazy. Also I would say Usher, to start out a child star and still be relevant today is a big accomplishment.
We have been having this segment on Ballerstatus.com called Mic Fights, where we put up two rappers against each other and people vote there answer. So now I am gonna put you on the spot (laughs)…
Most gritty emcee: 50 Cent or DMX?
Biggest legend: 2pac or Biggie?
2Pac. Don’t get me wrong, Biggie is a legend, but coming from an R&B standpoint, I can relate to Pac’s poetic lyricism a lot more.
Best Wu solo artist: Ghostface or Method Man?
Method Man, all around he’s just a dope artist.
Last but not least… if you could work with any artist dead or alive, who would it be and why??
I would love to work with Stevie Wonder, I’ve idolized him for so long I would be like a kid in the candy store.
Sammie it was great chopping it up with you and having you host Digital Dynasty R&B 4.
I would just like my fans to know I appreciate them. Also, for the latest news and updates follow me on twitter and Instagram @PrinceSammie.