Sam Dew Sam Dew

Premiere: Sam Dew Longs For The Past On 'Rewind'

Here is the premiere for Sam Dew's "Rewind." 

Between the same rotation of turn-up tunes and electronic dance magnets, Sam Dew is creating his own genre. The Chicago-bred singer and songwriter, who is credited for the hook on Wale's "LoveHate Thing" and has penned tracks for the likes of Rihanna, Mary J. Blige and Jessie Ware, is bringing what he calls "distorted soul" into the musical landscape.

Here, Dew drops off "Rewind," an old school-esque jam produced by TV on the Radio's Dave Sitek that fuses hip-hop with funk and #truestory lyrics. "That’s my ex," he tells VIBE of the track's meaning. "It felt like hell in the middle of it but that [inspired] the line, "I miss the belly of the beast/Where the sun don't rise in the East/Now that I won't feel another flame/Now I'm out in the cold." Too much of anything is bad, sure, but when you’re completely devoid of an existence in your life all of a sudden, it’s like the most sought after thing in the world."

The same could be said about his forthcoming EP Damn Sue, which puts his diverse musical tastes on full display (Dew listens to everything from Marvin Gaye to Hans Zimmer scores) while still keeping it real on life's precious moments. Soundtrack your nostalgia with "Rewind" and get more familiar with the man behind the music below.—Adelle Platon with additional reporting from Stacy-Ann Ellis

How did you discover your love for music?
It was just always around. My mother and father sing, not professionally but they sing all the time ‘round the house so that just became my music and radio became my trainer.

Describe your first performance.
My first performance was for a musical in grade school and I was pretty nervous. I was shaking and I could hear the shakes in my voice when I opened up for the first note, but it still sounded good and everyone was into it. Then I remember I wanted to hit a high note and [my voice] completely cracked. It’s on video. My parents still have it on VHS and they’re like ‘oh you know no one noticed.’ but everyone fucking notices that shit. (Laughs) I actually remember another [performance] before that. I did a talent show in the third grade and it was me my two homies. We had on Michael Jordan’s Chicago Bulls jerseys and we did “We Got It” by Immature. We didn’t win.

It’s okay. You won later.
Yeah, we always win later when we deserve it.

Exactly. Talk about some of your musical influences. Who do you really vibe with?
There’s Earth, Wind and Fire, Curtis Mayfield and Michael Jackson. I love the old soul stuff. For me, all of those elements made it into what alternative music is today so I don’t know, the future of soul is like in some [mix of] alternative and dance. So I listened to Radiohead, Nine Inch Nails and all these different types of people. I listen to a lot of Caribou. The funny thing is I’ve been listening to Hans Zimmer scores for the past week and there’s no vocals on that. That’s usually what i listen to on my own.

Your influences are so diverse. How would you characterize your sound?
I think what I’ve been trying to go for is alternative soul, for sure. but we’ve been throwing around the title for the record that’s coming after the EP that's ‘distorted soul,’ which serves multiple purposes. It could be a genre, a feeling, a condition. (Laughs) It’s definitely the best thing I could articulate to describe the music so far.

Your range is crazy and super distinct. Are you formally trained?
Thank you. I sang everything from Barry White to Mariah Carey on the radio. That whole Butterfly record was like a singer’s dream to try to copy. It didn’t matter if [the singer was] male or female. Range was all I heard. It may have a lot to do with me keeping my range as I got older, going through puberty. When i got to college, I was in the Glee club at Morehouse. That took my vocal ability to another level because Dr. David Morrow and Dr. Mel Foster were whizzes. I was only there for a couple of years before I lost my [student] loan in the recession but I still learned what I could at the time. It worked out. I joined a band and started forgetting everything I learned and tried something else. I think anti-knowledge has a lot to do with who I’ve become.

When you perform, you’re a man of little words and very little crowd interaction. What’s going through your head on-stage?
For me, songs are just moments. They’re glimpses so when I’m on stage, I do my best to recreate that moment that we felt when we were in the studio, making the music and trying to find a way to translate that live. For me, talking to people in between every little song [is like] you’re constantly breaking that illusion, that barrier and that just means you have to rebuild it. I try to keep it as basic and simple. The way I see it, people are here for the music. They’re not here for a monologue … My voice is heard enough in the music, you know?

For many, Wale's "LoveHate Thing" was their first introduction to you. Still, you've been working quietly for other artists like Rihanna and Jessie Ware. Was laying low until you were ready to release your own material your intentional strategy?
I mean I don't like to talk about stuff I do for other people because it’s not my project. If it comes out and I worked on it, I always plug and try to support it as much as possible but I really appreciate being as anonymous as possible. I know that kind of counteracts the work of being known but I just want people to know the music. I don't want people to feel like they need to know me unless they have to. I like to make it a choice instead of a force-feeding.

Even on social media, you’re somewhat mysterious.
Yeah, I just don’t post a lot of selfies. (laughs)

Was there ever a song you gave to another artist you wish you kept for yourself?
No. The best people I've spoken with that I’ve looked up to in this industry always believe that your best song is never the one you’ve already written so it’s like give that shit away. (Laughs)

Why is right now the best time to get to know Sam Dew?
Because the album is coming and you’ll be so confused you don’t know. (laughs) This EP is a primer. It’s gonna be a whole different world. It’s gonna be its own environment hopefully but the context is important. If you want to be part of the whole story, you’re gonna need to know everything.

Your EP is called Damn Sue. Is that a play off your name or does it have a deeper meaning?
It started as a joke but it actually came in handy because “Sue” became the woman that doesn't exist in my life. Damn Sue is like, 'Damn the woman I’m waiting for who doesn't seem to exist anywhere but I know I'm waiting for her. I know i need it and I know she’s around.' She’s like that pixelated face in the vision. You understand it and you see it but it’s never clear because it’s not in your life. “Sue” is the idea of the woman that doesn't exist but the reality that I'm fucked up because she’s not in my life.

What can we expect from the project sonically?
Sonically, you get a little distorted soul. Hopefully, you get a little alternative. There’s some hip-hop, old soul and rock in there. There’s some spaces to exist in. Hopefully, the pieces came together in the right way so that people really feel like they haven't sat through something like this in a while.

Stay tuned for Sam Dew's Damn Sue EP coming soon.

Photo Credit: Sam Dew

From the Web

More on Vibe

Premiere: Algee Smith Wants You To Know "All Girls Matter"

Euphoria star Algee Smith has plenty to offer the world, including new music. The multi-hyphenate artist has officially dropped his new single "All Girls Matter," an eclectic video to match.

Directed by LCR$, the video features Smith in room full women. Instead of the stereotypical co-stars, the visual includes women of all types of women of all shades and sizes. Released earlier this summer, Smith previously told VIBE about the message behind "All Girls Matter" and his new album, ATL.

"It describes the journey of faith from Atlanta to Los Angeles, it’s just really fun songs," he said. "'All Girls Matter' is the first single off of the album. When I hear "All Girls Matter," I think something that women can personalize themselves so they can feel good about it when they say it. When they hear it, they just feel good about themselves."

Smith knows a thing or two about harmonies. The 24-year-old showed off his singing chops in The New Edition Story when he took on the role of Ralph Tresvant. He's also been releasing music since 2015 like the easy-going "Pursuing" and the club-ready "She Say."

Enjoy "All Girls Matter" up top.

Continue Reading

Premiere: Tuxedo Showcases Top Dancers In "The Tuxedo Way" Video

The single from Tuxedo – the duo of Grammy-nominated soul singer Mayer Hawthorne and Grammy-nominated producer Jake One – is designed for the dance floor, and for their new video, director Ian Eastwood enlisted some of the most successful hip-hop dancers to show their moves.

Eastwood is a former member of Mos Wanted Crew, which was featured on America's Best Dance Crew and World of Dance. When Tuxedo met him at a party ("he said he fuxed with the Tux," they told VIBE) and saw him dance, they decided to pitch him to direct the video for "The Tuxedo Way."

The video features Eastwood both directing and performing, along with several other renowned dancers: Popin’ Pete (nee Timothy Earl Solomon) of the Electric Boogaloos crew, Jaja Vankova (So You Think You Can Dance season 12 finalist and America’s Best Dance Crew season 6 champion), Alan “Kid Boogie” Leal, Lily Frias (America’s Best Dance Crew season 7), Marie Poppins (America’s Best Dance Crew season 8), Hector “Bean” Flores (America’s Best Dance Crew season 7), and Shockwave. The dancers are a perfect fit with Tuxedo's 70s-inspired funk.

“I first fell in love with popping and funk when I was 10 years old. Throughout the last 16 years of learning and becoming a genuine fan of every individual person that contributed to/is in this video, I think it was truly magic and the alignment of some stars to bring this art piece to life," Ian Eastwood told VIBE. "I’m so thankful to every single person on set that made this possible so the world could see the beauty of this incredible style of dance from one of its creators (Popin’ Pete) all the way through the current generation to a record that proves funk can never die from two amazing musicians. My hope is that this video can be looked back at for years to come as a true representation of the style both in music and dance.”

"The Tuxedo Way" appears on Tuxedo's third album, Tuxedo III, which was released in July on the duo's label Funk On Sight and features guest appearances by MF DOOM, Gabriel Garzón-Montano, Parisalexa, Leven Kali, Battlecat, DāM-FunK, Gavin Turek and Benny Sings. Tuxedo is currently on a North American tour that runs through Aug. 24.

Continue Reading

Premiere: DanteWuzHere Seeks Spiritual Solace In "Heaven Help Us" Video

In his powerful new video for "Heaven Help Us," singer DanteWuzHere speaks of a turbulent sociopolitical landscape where the future is in danger. While the message may seem especially resonant now with racist leaders and mass shootings, unfortunately, oppression is a timeless issue – and DanteWuzHere took inspiration from thoughtful legends before him when creating his new visuals.

"What I wanted to feel and convey with 'Heaven Help Us' was the same feeling I got when I heard songs like Prince's 'Sign O' The Times', Marvin Gaye's 'What's Going On', Bob Marley's 'Get Up Stand Up' and Janet Jackson's Rhythm Nation project as a whole," he told VIBE. "Focusing on the message while connecting it with the production, melodies and the visual. A statement piece with a vibe, a groove. Blending the lines between alternative, rock and R&B/soul music. Considering where society stands presently, I think it is important for artists to use their platform to not only have a good time, but to also educate and bring awareness to things that affect our lives and communities."

While DanteWuzHere looks for spiritual solace in the song's lyrics and choir background vocals, he also uses Christian imagery in the video: he wears a rosary over his face, and striking shots are taken around a cathedral.

"Visually, I wanted that glam rock of the '80s and '90s mixed with some hood rock star vibes. A performance and fashion story with bold statement pieces, and this beautiful cathedral as the backdrop," DanteWuzHere told VIBE, adding that he drew inspiration from Lenny Kravitz, Prince, Andre 3000 and Missy Elliott.

"I didn't want to come across as too preachy, this message and this visual is my plea to the world I see around me. Inequality is at max levels. Without getting into details, all you have to do is tune in to the news."

DanteWuzHere is currently working on his debut EP, Paradiso, with plans for a spring release. "Heaven Help Us" is available on streaming services.

Continue Reading

Top Stories