Interview: Sammie Is Looking To Restore R&B’s Core With ‘I’m Him’ Project
Sammie’s break from the R&B spotlight wasn’t a fluke. During most of the 29 years he’s lived on Earth, his dedication has been to music.
During the rise of bubblegum acts like Britney Spears, Christina Aguilera and N’Sync, the singer provided the soundtrack to middle-school cafeteria dances with catchy tracks like “I Like It” and “Crazy Things I Do.”
His tracks hit gold status thanks to a little help from production gods Dallas Austin and Christopher “Tricky” Stewart. Despite the temptation to continue like his counterparts, the singer decided to take a break and focus on his studies. Take another trip back in time and you’ll remember Sammie teaming up with the R&B game’s top producers like Dallas Austin, Jazze Pha and Bryan-Michael Cox for his second effort, Sammie. Aside from his modest hit “You Should Be My Girl,” the Florida-born crooner also took part in a few collabos like “Kiss Me Through the Phone” with Soulja Boy.
But if you ask the singer, his spotty hiatus needed to happen. His latest Instagam post, a collage of his albums, mixtapes and EP’s, show his passion was misplaced by fear, anxiety and doubt. “I had to eat noodles, lose sleep, suffer from insomnia, [was] reliant on Ambien to sleep,” he said. “Alcohol became a go-to, to mellow out, women became my getaway. I failed at love a few times, when all I really needed was God, & time to master my craft.”
Speaking with VIBE just before the holidays, the 29-year-old sounds like a new artist while gushing over his latest EP, I’m Him. “I just wanted to create something that was authentic,” he said. “Something that was original, something that was refreshing to R&B; because I feel like it’s too hip-hop influenced these days. It’s just been an amazing ride and from such an organic place.” Now without any co-signers, Sammie is ready to marinate the genre with traditional spices to make it a loving place. After the release of I’m Him, listeners proved their appreciation, giving it a home on the Top 10 iTunes R&B charts. A little love from social media also reminded him of his exceptional talent.
We talked to Sammie about his sensual approach to I’m Him, his reconnection with his faith and more. Peep the chat below.
VIBE: How did I’m Him come about?
Sammie: It really arrived from an Instagram video. I laid down the idea and my fans really, really gave me amazing feedback. Then TheShadeRoom posted it and it went viral. [After that,] it kinda forced me to get into the studio and at least make that record the single. I just wanted to create something that was authentic, something that was original, something that was refreshing to R&B; because I feel like it’s too hip-hop influenced these days. It’s just been an amazing ride and from such an organic place. I’m super grateful to be back in the forefront, and I thank my fans for making it happen.
So your first single off the EP is “I’m Him.” Can you tell us why you chose this track to be your lead single?
It was the people’s choice. It’s not even my top favorite record but that’s the one that they chose and you have to listen to your fans these days. I think we as artists don’t utilize social media the way we’re supposed to. You’re getting media feedback from your fans as soon as you post something; they’re letting you know what they want you to look like, talk like, sound like, the content they want you to sing about so I really allowed my fans to A&R this entire project.
I’m excited that we debuted on the Top 5 on iTunes. Internally, that was the idea. I’m right next to Alicia Keys like it’s crazy because I’m independent and an urban R&B artist. They feel like we’re extinct. They feel like we don’t matter so my fans have proven them wrong time and time again and this was really, really just a great feeling. I’m humbled by it and I’m super grateful for all the Sammie lovers and R&B lovers all over the world; it’s a real statement.
In the song, you’re talking about childhood lessons and how you’ve grown into treating a woman. Could you explain a childhood experience that inspired your path in love?
My mother did a great job with instilling morals and ethics and really she calls herself a queen. That’s how I refer to my mother as queen; she calls me king in return. I’m big on that when I’m dating somebody; she then becomes my queen. I don’t know when it became so cool these days in R&B to degrade women. That’s so anti from what R&B used to be about. With records like “I’m Him” or “I’m Better” or even “I Want You” there’s this genuine, transparent vibe where I’m letting it be known that I respect women. So now I have my own thing where I don’t sound like nobody else from a production standpoint and as well as the content that I’m singing.
So that basically explains your outlook on R&B’s current state.
Yeah, I think once auto-tune became okay for rappers to use, I think they got to keep the same content. It messed up some of my industry peers who sing R&B. They started thinking that they had to cater to those to be relevant and now we have this one long song on the radio degrading women, so it’s actually in a terrible place. Someone asked me the other day if I was coming to for the throne; to be the king or prince of R&B. I don’t want that title. If anything, I will be the savior of R&B. I want to be the one to shift R&B back to where it used to be. I want to influence my peers to get back in the studio and reconsider the content that they shouldn’t write and just take their time and create something that’s timeless. I like Luke James, Joe, Tank is still doing it at an elite level; I like what Usher just put out so it’s a few of us out here that’s taking our time to create something that’s everlasting, but as a whole, it’s been on life support for quite sometime.
How was the creative process for the EP?
Super organic. I have a studio at the crib so I can just simply go downstairs anytime I want to and create. Special shoutout to my producer doughboy, my producer City and my engineer Demetrius Bell. We just got together and got to know each other more and started discussing certain concepts. I think that’s the best way to do it; to be transparent with the creatives so we collectively can come up with this sound that’s refreshing and new.
So what should fans who haven’t heard your EP expect?
Genuine music. A breath of fresh air. I don’t sound like anybody. It’s super honest and passionate. It’s my voice– not computer generated. I just want it to touch your spirit. I want it to touch your soul because that’s what I do, I do soul music. That’s what R&B is to me. I think it’s soul food everyone else that has been getting fast food for awhile and I wanted to take my time in the kitchen and give you some macaroni and collard greens, ham and stuff like that. So yeah, I’m just delivering that soul food your gonna love and they’ve been eating it up.
You can purchase the EP on iTunes here.