If you saw music sitting on a park bench reading a book looking like the most beautiful thing you’ve ever seen in your life, what would you say to her?
“Thank you for saving me. Thank you for giving me purpose in life.”
From the Bottom to the Top, Sammie, Insomnia, The Leigh Bush Project, Indigo, Series-3187, Series-31872.0, I’m Him. Those are the titles of the projects Sammie has released since his 1999 debut. He’s been underground for a few years now, which has lead many to believe that the latest project on his resume is a comeback. But make no mistake, Sammie has always been here dope as ever—even when he was here as Leigh Bush–and his newest EP I’m Him is speaking for the great art he’s always had the capability of producing as it climbed up charts debuting at top 5 on iTunes and top 10 on Apple Music amongst Alicia Keys, Solange, The Weeknd and his idol, Usher.
Not too long ago he crossed that infamous bridge and stopped in Brooklyn, NY for a special I’m Him listening party a few days after the EP’s November 11th release where a group of his fans got to share space with him while they vibed to his new sounds. I got the opportunity to speak with Sammie about what I’m Him means to him and what has kept him going in R&B for the last 17 years.
He’s kind, genuine by nature and passionate in every run he spreads over each song and in every lyric he writes. Keeping the wheels rolling with producer Doughboy and some help from Henny Tha Bizness, Sammie created I’m Him showing personal growth between 2015’s Indigo and where he is today. Indigo mirrored his feelings on being immature and dropping the ball on relationships that could have been something worthwhile.
“You know, you dream of meeting this woman that’s domesticated and God-fearing and beautiful inside and out … but sometimes you’re not ready for greatness,” he said about his past experiences, but tracks including “Better” and “I Want You” on I’m Him show that he’s grown from that. “I now understand the significance and the value of a woman and just to appreciate someone that’s genuine and good for you.” If you haven’t noticed (pure sarcasm), the R&B veteran’s core fan base has always been ladies and with good reason. His appreciation and respect for women never go unnoticed in his music. He is still existing and thriving in the era of R&B that still has a woman’s back even if today’s R&B might be letting women walk closer to the curb.
When auto-tune in hip-hop became popular because it allowed rappers to add melodies to their sixteens he sensed a shift in attitudes toward women, who often refers to as “queens.”
“It’s unfortunate because when you’re chasing mainstream radio and when you’re chasing the politics that come along with being signed with majors and having to do things for mass appeal, you compromise true art. You compromise integrity and ethics and morals. And I think that a lot of my peers—no shade to anybody—but I just feel like when you’re chasing top 10 on the radio or the charts, they went with what rappers were doing and that messed the game up.”
Throughout this shift he made sure that he and his StarCamp team stayed uninfluenced by it.
Being an indie artist for the last seven years gave him the freedom he needed to create without any restrictions and to give those industry politics the ultimate curve. This is not to say that he’ll shy away from major deals, “If I go back major, I would hope that the label signs me based upon everything that I’ve done these passed 6-7 years underground. To debut top 5 independently that should stand for something. To debut top 10 on Apple Music independently, that should stand for something.” The proof is in the numbers, labels. The people are still loving and appreciating traditional R&B.
The responses he’s been getting from I’m Him are making statements. To think it wasn’t too long ago that Sammie was convinced that he’d help to save the state of R&B through his writing and not his voice. Back in 2009 his manager at the time took everything from him. It was both a humbling and terrible time in his life.
“I just didn’t understand how somebody felt so entitled to what God had given me.” He had put in the work, killed stages around the world, made deeper connections through his music to provide for his family back at home and one day everything he had worked for was gone. Sammie reflected on those defeated days, “It made me fall back. It made me not want to be in the front and take the backseat and write.” Fast forward from 2009 to June 30, 2016 when one his is frequent videos posted to IG sharing his creative process, this time for the EP’s title track “I’m Him,” went viral.
There were excited ladies sliding in those DMs left and right letting him know that they’ve been in love with the singer since 1999 back when they were tearing photos of him from magazines to tape to their walls [Guilty! Right On! Magazine specifically] happy to learn that he was still making good music. That was the push he needed to realize he couldn’t sit on his voice any longer and by the words of his father this EP is not his comeback, “It’s a come up.” A strong come up it is and there are plenty reasons for anyone who hasn’t given I’m Him a listen yet to explore it, but Sammie has a few of his own.
“It’s original. I don’t sound like anybody. I listen to the radio sometimes and it sounds like one long song. That becomes a little redundant.” He feels the content on this one is also refreshing and I couldn’t agree more, “I think women appreciate that a man in my generation thinks the way I think and praises the way I feel queens should be praised. So, hopefully that would be enough for them to give a listen to it and if they enjoy it, I pray that they spread it.”
Sammie Leigh Bush, Jr. has made up his mind that he’s not going anywhere and I know that R&B wouldn’t want him to. It’s important and more meaningful when there are still artists who are making music more for the love of it than the currency it brings it. There’s a difference it the music when it’s based on the love for it. It’s good music.
And Sammie’s I’m Him EP is definitely great music. Support that.