June 30th, 2011
Comebacks are always difficult. Even more so when you never really went anywhere.
Some might say R&B recording artist Sammie was a "one-hit wonder" and "disappeared" after his 1999 hit single, "I Like It," and his 2000 solo debut album, "From the Bottom to the Top," were both certified gold by the Recording Industry Association of America.
True, the young man born Sammie Bush — born and raised in Florida and son of a professional gospel singer — disappeared for a few years. But it's not really that surprising when you consider his big break came as a pre-teen on "Showtime at the Apollo" and he spent his adolescent years chasing his musical dreams. Coming from a solid family upbringing, of course Sammie would want to get his high school diploma and consider attending college.
Now 24, he's back into music full-time and getting ready to release his latest album, "Coming of Age." The Pulse got to speak with Sammie via telephone from the east coast, where he was getting ready to start traveling westward, ultimately ending up in Honolulu this weekend.
Jason Genegabus: When you did "Showtime at the Apollo" in 1998, did you realize at the time that it was your big break?
Sammie: I had done so many talent shows with the group I was in, I just thought it was another big talent show. I knew the Apollo was big, but I didn't realize how big. I rubbed the log, just like Steve Harvey told me to.
I was 11 at the time. That's where I was discovered by Joyce Irby, who hooked me up with Dallas Austin.
JG: "From the Bottom to the Top" and "I Like It" were both certified gold by the RIAA. Yet some critics describe you as a one-hit wonder. Your thoughts?
Sammie: I left (the music business) to go to school, just to have that sense of normalcy. You get so wrapped up in the money and the fame … especially being successful at a young age.
Universal had given me a P&E deal. When you do that, they just … pretty much press up my albums and put it out. Universal itself didn't really go for the project.
From an independent standpoint, to sell 120,000 units was okay. But I wanted to do more. I felt like I wanted my music to be heard worldwide. And in this business, it also takes marketing at the right time to be successful.
JG: What's the difference between working with Interscope now and working with Dallas Austin a few years ago?
Sammie: Working with Dallas Austin is always one of those experiences that's a fantasy and a dream come true. He's helped so many people's careers. It was almost the greatest situation a new artist could come into.
But being in an independent situation, I didn't feel I was getting the push I needed. … There's no bad blood between me and Rowdy and Dallas Austin. In 2011, the industry has changed. You have to adapt.
At 24, I've been through a lot of bumps and bruises. So I started my own company, Star Camp Entertainment. Now I'm a boss — moreso just so I can have creative control. I feel like I can't sell a product if I don't believe in it. And I believe in myself. I think I proved that … by collaborating with Souljah Boy. We was number one in the country for 12 weeks.
JG: "Coming of Age" is the new album. Any updates?
Sammie: I'm like 90 percent done, and then I'm flying to LA in July. Then I'll be done.
For the first time, I actually have a sound. When I come on, you know it's Sammie. This is the most passionate project I've ever recorded. I wrote every record, so it's really personal, about the things that I've been through, this relationship I've been going through.
I just think that's what we're coming to (now as artists) … giving people something that's genuine.
JG: What can we expect from this weekend's performance?
Sammie: The beauty of my career is that I get to do what I call "The Time Machine." I take people back to 1999, and then I bring them up to 2011.
You can definitely expect high energy and live singing, no autotune. (laughs) Just up close and personal with the people. I'm down for that. I like to be in the mix with the people.
JG: Ever been to Hawaii before?
Sammie: Never did the vacation thing. I'm glad I'll get a day or two to do my thing. But I actually performed there when I was 13 years of age. So this is actually my second time. I just can't wait.
Jason Genegabus is Entertainment Editor/Online at the Honolulu Star-Advertiser and has covered the local nightlife, music, bar and entertainment scenes since 2001. Contact him via email at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Sammie in Concert
Presented by Mailloechii Entertainment
» Where: Bar Paparazzi, Ward Centre
» When: 10 p.m. Friday, July 1
» Info: 542-7548