Sammie – Everlasting
Word + Interview by Tyrone Davis
R&B singer, Sammie just released his latest project, “Everlasting”. The 20 year veteran and I discussed his first single “Times 10” featuring Lil Baby, the importance of pleasing his partner, how he feels about being left off of the “Millennium Tour” and the current state of R&B.
First off, let’s talk a little bit about your single.
“Times 10”. Yea, it just dropped the 18th of January and it’s available on all digital formats. It’s featuring Lil Baby. Coming back around this time at 31(now 32) years young, I’ve always had the love records or the records about messing up and trying to fix it and being more remorseful about it. I just wanted to do something more risque, bold, direct and confident. Records working like Tank’s “When We” have opened the gate for Adult Contemporary R&B to go back mainstream and my record is just a bold, honest and sensual record and the feedback has been crazy. Salute to the QC family for rocking with me and shout out to Lil Baby for being a part of it.
Break down the concept of the record.
It’s about providing pleasure. It’s a sex record, of course but it’s saying that I’m going to provide that service times 10. I’m a Pisces, so I’m a pleaser in that realm of my life. It’s a different side of me that I’ve never really showcased to my fans. I have sex records on all of my projects but they never were rollout records.
Alright, so on the way down here, my team and I were talking about pleasing your partner. You know, “do’s and don’ts”. When you’re in a relationship or married, sometimes lines get drawn. For you in particular, what are some things that you may say “no” to, if any?
In the department of sex? Absolutely. Umm, now…really, I’m a pleaser so if I’m in a relationship, it’s whatever. I’ve had a threesome before and all that. It’s cool. I wouldn’t want to do that with the girl I’m with though. You know? I don’t want her to ever have to envision me sexing nobody or bearing witness to that. Umm, I’ve had a lot of fun. I’ve been singing my entire life and traveling the world and just experiencing life. You know what I’m saying? Natural things and encounters with women but the only don’t is I wouldn’t bring nobody else in the bedroom. I think that’s disrespectful to her. Even if she was okay with it, I wouldn’t want her to ever have that in her head and I wouldn’t want her to think she had to do that to keep me.
As somebody who has been in the business for a long time, there is a lot of controversy going on right now, talking about entertainers and things that entertainers are able to do. With you coming into the game as early as you came in, how has your experience been with older women in particular? Is that a thing? You’re a guy and they talk about young girls being in the mix amongst adult entertainers….
Well, my preference when I was a younger guy was to mess with older women. I’ve always just been a little ahead of my time and a little more mature, even mentally. So, a lot of women my age at that time from a mind standpoint couldn’t stimulate me. So, I always talked to older women. My mom did cosmetology her entire life had her own salon so I spent a lot of days after high school listening to grown women conversing about just grown shit, you know what I’m saying? That’s what I was around so I gravitate to the more mature type. Also, I was raised the right way so I keep my name clean, you know what I’m saying? I stay out of things that could be detrimental to not just my career but just to me as a man and as a black man….we got it hard enough so I try to stay out the wind and make my path as smooth as possible.
So, when you were coming up there was a period of time you took off from the business. What was life like during tha time?
From 1999 to 2001, that was the duration of time where I gave you, I Like It, Crazy Things I Do For Love, From the Bottom to the Top, Hardball, etc. Success came so fast for me, thank God but there’s a gift and a curse to that. I wasn’t able to go back to my school and be a normal kid. I wasn’t able to go to the mall by myself or kick with the homies because there’s this thing called “fame” that comes with music and being successful in the music industry. So, it was as normal as possible, high school, for me. I played basketball two years. I was the homecoming king. I was part of the renaissance program. I was also in the choir, but my peers couldn’t understand how they could go home and watch me on “106th and Park” and then tomorrow, we’re sitting next to each other in Geometry.
You know what I’m saying? It was a lot for them to accept but I wouldn’t trade those four years for anything because that’s what taught me the significance of life, which is love and passion and a unification of spirits and souls, you know what I’m saying? It’s bigger than fame and monetary things for me. I need both. I love to sing and create art. Really, at this point, I don’t care about fame. I’m only famous because I am the talent, but that’s not something I seek. It just comes with the job that I’ve chosen. But, my brotherhoods and my relationships that I developed back in my high school days are the ones that I hold close til this day.
You came up around a time where I was on the tail end of high school. During that era there was Bow Wow and a lot of other artists that were coming out during that time. “The Millennium Tour” is about to happen. How you feel about not being included on the tour?
I feel disrespected for a few reasons….One: I was the first, not the second, third or fourth, but the first child star of that generation. So, if it wasn’t called “The Millennium Tour”, I really wouldn’t give two shits. But, because it’s called The Millennium Tour, I felt like I opened the window for executives to go find a Bow Wow, who I feel should be a part of the tour. You have rap acts on there. You have Chingy and the Ying Yang Twinz, those are the big homies. You got to have Bow. Bow was the biggest thing of life at that time. I also believe on the spiritual side that what is for me, is for me so if I’m not a part of it, it’s just not in the Sammie cards, you know what I’m saying?
If I had to guess, maybe some guys on the tour feel like I would take some shine away because my following is like an organic following. There might be an argument where some of those guys have bigger records but I had bigger moments. You know where you were when I Like It, Crazy Things, From the Bottom to the Top and Hardball came out. You know where you were when You Should Be My Girl, Come With Me and Kiss Me thru the Phone came out. These are records I sing as a 31 (now 32) year old man and now women who were young girls who used to have me on their walls and their lockers, they sing those words, verbatim like it came out yesterday. So, that’s really how I felt. And, I’m mad cool (or so I thought) with everybody on there. You’ve never seen me in a scandal, no beef.
I don’t do the Rah Rah. I show everybody peace and love and support for what they do and I wish all of them success. I hope that the tour is successful. I hope it goes all the way through with no drama and they sell out these arenas. But, it’s definitely something that you shouldn’t have had without at least….give us the option. You know what I’m saying? Give us the option to turn it down. Nobody reached out. I know Lottie. I know Lloyd. You know what I’m saying? I know Pleasure. I know Pretty Ricky. I was on the Scream Tour with Omarion. So, if I had to guess, I think that some people are a little intimidated by, they call it a comeback, but the new love I’m getting as an adult entertainer. It’s hard to cross that bridge from being a child star, a teenage heartthrob and then the man you are today and it be taken seriously. But all my music is still charting, currently. So, I have catalog from 1999 to 2019. So, that’s 20 years of material and maybe some people are intimidated about that.
Speaking of hits, Soulja Boy has been in the news a lot here lately. (Big Draco! That’s the homie.) One thing that people might’ve forgotten was the “Kiss Me Thru The Phone” record. I even forgot but as soon as they mentioned it and people started going back and listening to the old records, that was a really big record for you too. How did you guys link up? Was that part of the label situation?
Let me say this, I’ve been independent like 90% of my career. The only album that came out under a major was Capitol Records, my first time. After that, Rowdy Records with Dallas Austin and everything from that point on was Star Camp Music, which is my entity and I have an amazing partnership with EMPIRE out of San Fran. I went to a video shoot to holler at DJ Khaled, actually. I was trying to get that Florida/Miami alliance because I was raised there for six years. I never even ran into him but Soulja came up to me at the shoot was like, “Yo, I got this record. I sung my little version on the hook but I don’t like how I sound. I need you to come to the studio”.
Once our schedules aligned (it took about two weeks), I pulled up on him, did it and I still didn’t know it was that big of a monster record. I thought it was cool and catchy and Collipark reached out to my team at the time, we did the video and they leaked it on Youtube. This is before digital streaming platforms and it had like 500,000 views in like a few hours and you know, he’s the king of the internet before the industry became so internet driven. Next thing you know, it’s the top three record in the nation. We had Jay Leno and Jimmy Kimmel Live view. So, shout out to Soulja…he made that play. He came up to me personally and was like, “I need you to pull up on me”.
Soulja Boy is one of those guys that did a lot of stuff on his own. You just mentioned that you’ve been an independent artist for a majority of your career. What are some of the pitfalls and some of the positives of being independent?
Well, the pitfall is it takes a financial burden on your pockets and your livelihood. There were many times where I was like, “Ah, I’m going to have to catch up on his mortgage because I need shoot visuals, I need artwork, I need to pay the stylist, I need to pay this publicist, my manager is getting whatever he’s getting. So like, I got grown men bills, you know what I’m saying? I have a house. I went straight to a house when I got my checks. I didn’t get an apartment or a lease, nah. I was real deal adulting it at 20 years young at the time. I guess the pitfalls are you’re going to have to take some L’s and some years of not being financially comfortable where you would like to be because no lable was fronting these millions or these hundreds of thousands or however much it takes to get your project off the ground.
But then the purchases, the return is all you, you know what I’m saying? You take care of your team but the profit is all you. And then I think also, I was saying this earlier…I like to have creative control over my project and that’s not just musically. It’s from how I want to talk, look, be perceived as to the messages I want to convey. I have a disdain for people telling me what to do. You can advise me what to do cause I don’t know it all. I’m forever learning but suffering the consequences of another man’s decisions is the worst thing. It’s a lot of artists that are without money and without deals because they listened to that A&R or that CEO and the CEO isn’t going to give you a do over. They go find another you or something that’s working or you’re a tax write off.
I understand that. I understand the business part of it. You can’t even take that personally. So, when you’ve learned that, when you go for those things, I need destiny in the fate of my own hands. I’m not giving it to nobody else. You know what I’m saying? I am the talent. I have the vision. So, that’s the blessing that when it works, it was something that you believed in before anybody else believed in it and once you see it all the way through and it starts to manifest and win, you’re forever in control of your own destiny.
Being someone who came up around the time when the internet really started picking up and from then to now, seeing how things and people have changed, how do you feel about social media being an artist?
I love it. That’s what brought me back. It wasn’t the typical, “Yo, management or lawyers set up this meeting with this A&R. We’re gonna play them three songs and they’re going to love it and we’re going to get signed”. That’s not how it happened for me. The Shade Room gave me their platform for a few hours and that led to an onslaught of opportunities and now that’s led to three consecutive chart topping projects and a tour with my idol, Tank. I’m on my fourth project and I’ve just been kind of floating. It doesn’t even feel…I mean it’s work, but it’s not hard work. First of all, I’m doing what I love to do and then secondly, I see it so clearly like this album, I’m already thinking about the fifth. I’m already thinking about the next business venture because my mind doesn’t stop clicking because I’m nowhere near where I want to be.
People would think that I’m supposed to be satisfied. Hell no. I used to think once I got this amount of money, I’ll be cool. Nah, I want more. Or, once I hit number one on the charts, I’ll be cool. Nah, I want to do it again and I want Grammys, not just the nomination. So, every day I’m hungry and social media is what brought me back. I got direct contact with my consumers. They let me know how I need to look, what songs work, etc. They rock with my tatts, the beard, the braids…they made me this, you know what I’m saying? Although I was just becoming, they OK’d it, they stamped it and they are your direct feedback. They are your A&Rs, they help you with your imaging, you know what I mean? If you really, really pay attention to it like that, if you study it, I don’t post just to post.
Everything is calculated. I know when I’m giving you too much music so “Oh, I need to be a little silly”. I’m a spiritual person, let me talk about God and how great he’s been to me. I really have a balance in a calculated delivery when it comes to social media. Ironically, that’s the app that brought me back.
Do you ask for advice from your fans when you’re working on music?
When I first came back, yes because they chose the record, I’m Him as the return single from a mainstream standpoint. So I was like, “what made them gravitate to this?” because I’ve been leaving snippets on Instagram. Well one was the platform that was allotted to me, The Shade Room but two, I knew people still want it real R&B. They didn’t want just this autotune, Hip-Hop oriented stuff that’s going on.
You know what I’m saying? That’s cool too but all women want to be loved or if you fuck up, all women want you to be sorry about it. You know what I’m saying? Not like “Well, ah man…” you know what I’m saying? They really want to see some type of remorse and some compassion. That’s what we’re built of but men started feeling like they’re not masculine if they show the emotional side. Drake can do it though and we see huge he is. If he was an R&B singer, that would be the epitome of what R&B is supposed to be. If I was a rapper, I would be Drake. So, why do we have to go to Drake, who was a Hip-Hop artiststo get that emotion and that message across? So it opened up a lane for me and that lane has been open for over a decade because every interview I do they ask, “How do you feel about the state of R&B?”
It’s just now getting back to a great place with Ella Mai and H.E.R. and Daniel Caesar, When We working in for Tank, etc. So, feedback initially from a creative standpoint when I first came back was about the fans being included. Now I genuinely know and I still think there’s an art of having some mystique exclusivity with my material. So, this album I didn’t share any snippets. I am 100% certain what they want from me and then the success and just the feedback in a weeks time from Times 10, let me know I’m on the right path.
Aside from the album, what is your year looking like?
I partnered with As I Am last year. It’s a hair product and beard line as well as Curls. I really want to ink a solidified situation exclusive for the company just because that’s really become a part of me from an image standpoint, my hair and my facial hair. I’m always being asked what products I use, etc., so that’s something I want to lock in. A liquor sponsor…I party a little bit, you know what I’m saying? I have my little preferences of what I like to do to turn up a little bit and enjoy the atmosphere. So, that’s something I want to do. I want to open up a lounge. I want a restaurant and my siblings, they actually like have masters and majors in culinary arts. So, I just want to diversify myself, not just from a monetary standpoint to have different realms of revenue but I believe I embody what it takes to be an entrepreneur or a mogul in the game. You know what I’m saying? I respect Diddy. I respect Jay Z…those people that took music and made something else so special from that empire. So music is just a platform and the gateway to do everything else that I was put on this earth to do and I’m young enough in my prime. I feel like I’m just entering my prime to execute all of those things simultaneously.
Will these be the first projects you’ve delved into outside of music?
Yeah, because I feel like you could be a jack of all trades, but a master of nothing. So, I wouldn’t be a great salesman on the liquor or a product line if I hadn’t mastered music yet. And, I understand I’m an artist and singer-songwriter first. So, I need to master this and now I could do that in my sleep and create an album in no time. I can create an EP and it won’t be nothing just rushed. It would be a great body of work. Now that I’m so sure in that, I can diversify myself, put my energy into it and give it my all.
Follow Sammie on Twitter and Instagram @sammiealways, Facebook: Sammie and on Snapchat @SammieLeighBush.
Photo by Blair Devereaux.