[INTERVIEW] Sammie Has Left an ‘Everlasting’ Impact Throughout His Lengthy Career
R&B Trailblazer Sammie Gets Transparent About Love, Life, Relationships, and More
Some of your most memorable childhood-to-teenagehood moments were probably filled with sweet melodies from Florida-bred R&B songster Sammie.
Whether you were sifting through the latest magazines for more posters to add to your nearly-full collection or singing along to “Crazy Things I Do” as it bumped through your bedroom’s boombox, your middle-school years were more than likely spent swooning over the then-preteen heartthrob.
To his southern roots, he’s known as Sammie Leigh Bush Jr., but to us, he’s the guy who seemingly stole each and every one of our hearts at age twelve and beyond. Perhaps, you first became familiar with Sammie in 1999, with the uber-successful release of his debut album, From the Bottom to the Top, which featured chart-topping single, “I Like It.”
Though viewed as the cute kid who could awaken any crowd, it was Sammie’s smooth, ingenuous vocal gift and lyrics that resonated with us enough to keep our eyes glued and ears opened, even through his transition from a boy to a man. A step away from the scene didn’t erase the fact that SLB was a young powerhouse of the new millennium. He not only broke records; he set bars, paved ways, and created waves that people are still riding to this very day.
Hit-after-hit, we grew to appreciate iconic songs like “Hardball,” which was a collaboration with Bowwow, Lil’ Wayne, and Lil’ Zane, “Come with Me,” from his self-titled second album Sammie, and better yet, 2008’s track of the year, “Kiss Me Thru the Phone,” featuring Soulja Boy. It goes without saying that Sammie’s talent is unforgettable and undeniable, but with the fame and the fortune has certainly come foes and failures.
However, in an industry full of single files, he has managed to craft his own lane, walking in the purpose and on the path that God has laid for him. Through many mistakes and misadventures, in both love and life, Sammie persistently uses his music as a vehicle for his truest and deepest emotions, and his only goal is to continue driving them out into the world, in the most transparent form.
His latest body of work, Everlasting, showcases that. After the 2017 release of his Coming of Age album, the singer-songwriter set out to enlighten the masses that Sammie is here to stay, regardless of the naysayers or heavy sleepers, and he’s done that and more. Effortlessly and unapologetically, with Everlasting, Sammie joins savagery and sensuality to make the perfect combination.
The 13-track LP made its entrance on his birthday, March 1st, and is already making an everlasting impact across the globe.
Hey, it wouldn’t be Sammie if it didn’t, right?
Check out our recent interview with the Young Lion himself, during the days leading up to his fourth album, as we talk about love, light, lyrics, and so much more.
Parlé Mag: So, the last time we spoke with you, you had just released Coming of Age, which was around 2017. Since then, how has life been treating you?
Sammie: I’ve been blessed! Around that time–when I dropped Coming of Age–I was on tour with Tank, doing The Savage Tour, which was amazing. I then released an EP on my birthday last year, that went number one on iTunes’ R&B charts. Here I am, a year later, releasing my fourth studio album, Everlasting. So, I’m just grateful for the growth; I’m grateful for the experience and just really, really humbled that my fans are allowing me to continuously evolve, creatively and as a man.
Parlé Mag: Now getting ready to embark on your fourth album, Everlasting, it has to be exciting, I’m sure. Talk to us about the creative process and concept behind this project.
Sammie: I entitled the album Everlasting based on a conversation I had with my mother fourteen years ago, when I was seventeen and I wanted permission to start dating, to move in on my first crush. She gave me a spill, short and brief, but it pretty much enlightened me that every good relationship, failed relationship, or every one-night-stand will have an everlasting effect on the man I become. So, [it made me realize that I always needed] to be mindful of that. As a thirty-one-year-old man now, as I got in the studio, these things that I started to write about, they weren’t just about one particular girl or the last relationship that I had.
Parlé Mag: Right.
Sammie: It was about all of these experiences that I’ve endured and that I’ve indulged in the last fourteen years of my life. It’s a very transparent, honest, and vulnerable album. I try to be that on Instagram, Twitter–all of my social handles, but you get the best of me and the most of me via my music. So, I’m an open book, and I’m just excited now to finally be at that point to share it with the world.
Parlé Mag: So, referring back to what your mother once told you, would you say that your relationships have had an impact on the man you’ve become today?
Sammie: Oh, very much so. The good, the bad, the happy, the sad, the ugly. It all plays a factor. I think, you know, when you fall short in love, it can either break you or it can make you stronger and make you better. So, I’ve just taken the lessons that I’ve learned in love and tried to apply it to my day-to-day life to become a better version of myself.
Parlé Mag: Back in January, you dropped the first single, a collaboration with Lil Baby, called “Times 10.” How did that come about?
Sammie: We just felt super excited about it when we recorded it in the studio. We thought it was a hit record without a feature, but I wanted to add a different flair. I’m showing a more bold, sensual side of myself, actually. Most of my music is always about love or being remorseful about the times I’ve fallen short again… in relationships. But, I wanted to just show the sexier side of myself, as I evolve. So, it’s a record for the lovers out there. It’s very blunt and direct, but it still has some splashes of being sensual at the same time. A guy named Troy, a mutual friend [that Lil Baby and I share], linked us together. I played the record for Lil Baby, and when he heard it, he hopped right in the studio and knocked it out for me. It was just the perfect win. The feedback has been phenomenal, and I’m super excited that we went in the right direction.
Parlé Mag: That’s amazing. Let’s get into your newest single, “Playlist,” which is out right now. I heard it, and I love it!
Sammie: Thank you!
Parlé Mag: No problem! What pushed you to make that particular song one of the leading tracks?
Sammie: You know what’s so awesome? That was the first record I wrote and created [for this album]. I actually did it on IG live, when I went to Arizona. So, I kind of bounced around when I worked on Everlasting. I didn’t want to just do everything in Atlanta.
Parlé Mag: Oooh, I see. That’s dope!
Sammie: I wanted to catch different vibrations, so to speak. We started in Arizona, then we went to Atlanta, then we flew out to L.A. to complete it. But that was the first record I wrote on IG live. Sean Marshall and my mans, Zarius, were playing the piano and the guitar, and I started humming the melody [to “Playlist”]. The girls on IG live were like, “Oh, my God! What is this?!” But it wasn’t an official song yet. [With the title], I wanted to play off of, of course, the digital streaming formats and give people a love record to add to their sex playlist. It just made sense. We released it on Valentine’s Day, which also made the record connect a lot faster, for the lovers out there. So, it’s just one of those feel-good, R&B records. It has some 90s vibrations, but it has a little bit of that Confessions, Usher flair, and I think that’s been lacking in R&B for quite some time. I wanted to kind of resurrect that sound, sonically… as well as content wise.
Parlé Mag: Mentally and emotionally, which song on the album would you say challenged you the most when it came to writing and actually recording it?
Sammie: Hands down, “Price of Fame,” because it’s about the sacrifices that I’ve made. Over the twenty-year career that I’ve been blessed with, I’ve missed out on some birthdays; I’ve missed out on some graduations. I still long to retire my mother, and my dad has had some health issues in his life, where I’ve had to keep that to myself while making sure that his medical expenses were taken care of so that he could get his medicine. You know, taking my sister in, too. So, I’m talking about all of that. Then, I think what touched me the most was [my family] sent me audio for the album. I just asked them to send me some audio on how it’s been raising me, and how it’s been being a sibling of mine. I found out how they really viewed me. You know what I’m saying? So, it’s a very personable record; it’s very honest. I actually get choked up every time I listen to it.
Parlé Mag: Aw!
Sammie: Sometimes, it’s like you just never knew that you needed closure in some aspects of your life until you get it.
Parlé Mag: Oh, definitely. We’ve all been there.
Sammie: Listening to my mother, my father, my brother, and my sister speak on me is a liberating feeling. So, “Price of Fame” would definitely be the one.
Parlé Mag: Seeing the current state of R&B and its lack of authenticity, in what ways do you feel Everlasting represents what we needed for the culture?
Sammie: Well, I’m that guy who’s not afraid to say what we men talk about amongst each other, at the bar or in the barbershop, but we feel like it’s not masculine to say it to a woman. We actually do have feelings; we do have emotions. We are a little slow at times! [laughs] We don’t mature as fast as women.
Parlé Mag: [laughs]
Sammie: I’m the guy to talk about those things. I’m not afraid to tap into my feminine but still feel very, very sure and certain of myself. That’s what this album is about. It’s about the journey to finding myself and becoming. So, Coming of Age, that was like still being under construction. Fast forward to two or three years later, I still want to always grow; every day there are ways to improve yourself, but I’m certain of who I am, what I have to offer, and I’m comfortable with facing the things that I still want to chisel at, to make myself better. Everlasting is that project where I expose that.
Parlé Mag: As you just said, throughout your career, you’ve been pretty transparent, and I think that’s one of the things your supporters really admire and appreciate about your music.
Being that there’s this man-made narrative that it’s not the norm for a man to be expressive in how he feels and what he wants, how have you managed to be so vulnerable but still maintain that masculinity in your artistry?
Sammie: I think, just in my life, in general, I’ve made it my business to be balanced.
Parlé Mag: That’s important.
Sammie: Exactly. And you know, be rugged when it’s needed to be, but also passive sometimes, or to be aggressive when it’s called upon, to know how to finesse certain situations. So, that’s just really me as a person. I’m a pretty well-rounded guy, and I’ve always been that way. I don’t know if it’s a zodiac thing or the way I was brought up. Even with the celebrity thing. I’m cool with being Sammie, but I also need my sense of normalcy. Women don’t want just the super, super good guy. They think they do, and then they get him and he’s a pushover, then they leave that guy for a terrible guy. They need somebody in the middle, somebody they could still have fun with and be themselves, but a guy who loves God, a guy who the parents will respect and take in. So, I always try to be mindful to just blend in, in any shape, form, or fashion.
Parlé Mag: You speak a lot about love and taking accountability in your lyrics. What would you say has been your biggest downfall in relationships? And what do you hope to do differently in the future?
Sammie: The first relationship where I fell in love, the problem was I was still greedy and still weak. I thought that I wanted a relationship, and I really needed to be finding myself. As far as the second relationship–because I’ve only been in two serious relationships–
Parlé Mag: Wait, really? Wooow.
Sammie: Yeah, yeah! They were pretty long, though. You know what I mean? Like, I’m not one of those guys where it just lasts for like a month or two. [laughs]
Parlé Mag: [laughs] Gotcha!
Sammie: They’ve been four years, another one was three. With the other one, I think that I was just trying to force two spirits, including mine, of course, that weren’t meant to be a team or a unit. I just wanted her, and just because you want somebody, you love somebody, you like somebody, and you’re attracted to them, it doesn’t mean that y’all are a great unit and a great team. I just really learned, now, to not force anything. Love, to me, should flow. It should be kind, it should be patient, it should be understanding. If it’s not that, I don’t want it.
Parlé Mag: Agreed!
Sammie: So, those are the downfalls. If I really had to dissect the failures of love or the relationships that I’ve had, those would be it.
Parlé Mag: Why do you think most men are afraid of commitment, taking responsibility, and showing that soft side when it comes to women? And how do you hope your music will sort of normalize it?
Sammie: I think because, honestly, it is difficult. Men are natural predators; we’re hunters. So, when you put it in that context, like, ‘every day you have to choose to be committed,’ it can be a lot. There are so many women around, and there’s Instagram. You know? Women, they’re everyday. You can have an awesome, beautiful, gorgeous woman who supplies everything you need; however, curiosity, as they say, killed the cat. It makes you kind of want to explore. All it takes is just one wrong turn, one wrong pivot to ruin a relationship, or to ruin the trust that you’ve worked so hard to build. So, I think that when you really break it down like that, it’s scary to think that you have to be perfect every day, in that department of commitment. It’s easier to not commit and to not be vulnerable, to not love and open yourself up to somebody.
Parlé Mag: That’s true.
Sammie: Because when you do that, too, that one person can alter your whole day. Or, they can make your whole day. So, that’s a very vulnerable space to be in.
Parlé Mag: Going back to the topic of R&B, what are your thoughts on the “King of R&B” debate that has been floating around social media lately? In all honesty, do you believe that there is a king of the genre?
Sammie: It showcased, to me, a few things. It illustrates that you could just grab your phone and say whatever you want to say, and it takes a life of its own! [laughs] Right?
Parlé Mag: Yes! [laughs]
Sammie: [laughs] I also like that, at least, it started a conversation about R&B again. Because for the last few years–well, I’m not going to say a few years; they’ve said a decade and beyond–it’s been dead. So, I’m glad that people are now going to listen to these albums, purchasing and streaming these albums, to see what our R&B acts have to offer. But I don’t think there’s a “King of R&B,” because again, like I’ve said, for the last ten or fifteen years, the number one question I usually get is, “How do you feel about the state of R&B?” Well, to me, if there was a king and the king leads the right way, that wouldn’t even be a question. So, it’s interesting. It’s an interesting conversation, but there’s not a “King of R&B.”
I think that Breezy is like the “King of Pop.” You can’t just box him into the genre of R&B because he’s so much more than that. Back in the day, it was fair to say R. Kelly, but I think, unfortunately, the allegations that he’s going through taints his legacy. Not a little bit, but a lot. People are trying to see if he separates his personal from his creative, so it’s wide open. I like that [this “King of R&B” debate] also showed that people are very segregated. [laughs] Everyone said they were the “King of R&B” after Jacquees said it, so it’s just funny. But if I had to say anything, I don’t think there is one. I think the people will put you in that position; you can’t self-proclaim yourself as that.
Parlé Mag: So, I wanted to touch briefly on you not being a part of B2K’s The Millennium Tour. Of course, there were a lot of questions as to why you weren’t on the lineup since you were one of the ones who kind of started that era. What is your take on that?
Sammie: I don’t know who the culprit is, but maybe someone’s intimidated by the newfound love that I’ve been receiving. You know, I don’t do a lot of things for attention, outside of giving myself to the world and my music. That’s it. It’s not about who I’m dating, or what reality TV show I’m on. I don’t really partake in those kinds of things. The reason I had to jump to that conclusion is because I was the first child star of my generation, the first child star of the millennium. So, if you call it ‘The Millennium Tour,’ I know the first person who comes in people’s heads is Sammie. You know where you were when you heard “I Like It,” “Crazy Things I Do,” “Hardball,” and “From the Bottom to the Top.” So, it’s no way that I can sit here and believe that my name wasn’t brought up.
I just think that, for whatever reason, they opted to not reach out. I didn’t take it in a beef way; there’s no beef–I support those guys–but from the title of the tour, itself, ‘The Millennium Tour,’ it’s something I definitely should’ve been a part of.
Parlé Mag: What artists do you currently listen to? Are there any upcoming ones who have caught your attention?
Sammie: I’m all over the place in my playlist, to be honest with you. [laughs]
Parlé Mag: [laughs] That’s not a bad thing!
Sammie: I have some Kehlani, Eric Bellinger, Post Malone. I have the guy Boogie who just dropped; he’s signed to Shady Aftermath. He’s super dope. Some Summer Walker, Rico Love, Bazzi. Like, I’m literally everywhere!
Parlé Mag: You have a big variety!
Sammie: Yeah! I listen to so much different music to enhance my sound and to broaden my horizons and not to just be in one box and one cubicle.
Parlé Mag: You returned to music a few years ago feeling like you still had a lot to prove and that there were still things that fans needed to know about Sammie. Are you at peace with your decision to return, and have you already achieved what you set out to do.
Sammie: I’m definitely at peace with returning to music, but I don’t get satisfied. That’s just me as a person. I’m content in all circumstances, but there’s always more. So, like, after I went viral with The Shade Room in 2016, I wanted a top ten debut on the R&B charts. My whole thing is streaming and digital. It’s not like I have radio and all of that, and it’s a new day. If you’re still trying to sell records, you’re in the wrong business. It’s not that anymore. The music is free; if you got $9.99, you get everyone’s catalog, every month. So, I used to think that having a top ten debut would be awesome. I went number five, then I wanted to have a number one. Coming of Age went number two. 31873.0 went number one. And I still want more!
Now, I want a number one with Everlasting, then I want Grammys. So, I will always be hungry and thirsty for more, but I’m very, very pleased with the growth and being able to not just have the music and projects but have the numbers to back it up. People really, really look at that, and I have those on my catalog now. So, I’m very content, but I’m never satisfied.
Parlé Mag: As an artist who’s stayed consistent and true to his craft, would you say that you’ve gotten the recognition that you truly deserve? If not, why do you think that is?
Sammie: Not from a global standpoint, but that’s because I’ve been independent, literally, ninety percent of my career. So, a lot of people don’t understand that because I’ve had mainstream success. When you have records like, “I Like it,” “Crazy Things I Do,” “Hardball,” “Come With Me,” “You Should Be My Girl,” “Kiss Me Through the Phone;” I wrote “Next Breath” for Tank–when you’ve been on The Scream Tour, the Price of Fame Tour, and all of these other tours–they think like, “Damn, he’s been around a long time, but he’s still underrated.” That’s because I still don’t have the million-dollar budget. That’s like the political side of things that I don’t even really like to talk about, because fans don’t understand that part.
All they know is you got an album coming out, you shot some videos, and you should be here. They don’t know the behind-the-scenes and the calculated work that it has, to really come together at the right time, the right season, with the right record, with the right people. It’s so much to it, so I don’t trip on that, for real. I just set goals for myself, and project-to-project, I make sure I’m elevating. I like the slow climb to the top… also. Because I think once you hit the ceiling, there’s nowhere else to go but down. So, I like that I’ve been able to extend and expand my career going on, technically, twenty years, and this is with like a four-year hiatus included, when I went to high school and left the scene.
Parlé Mag: So, what’s coming up for you? Can we expect a tour soon or anything?
Sammie: For sure! There will be a tour kicking off at the end of May. We’re working on routing as we speak. I dropped a visual on my birthday, along with the album, Friday, March 1st. I also want to tap into acting and fashion. You know I have long hair and this beard now. [laughs] I want to get into the brand ambassador side of things. I said the other day that I feel like there needs to be the next Diddy or the next Jay-Z. Like, who’s that next mogul? Of our generation? It’s time for somebody to step up to the plate and diversify themselves and be an inspiration for other people to aspire to be like. So, that’s my next challenge. Music, I can do that in my sleep. I’ve dedicated my life to mastering that craft, so I kind of want to get uncomfortable at something and learn that.
Parlé Mag: Any final words to your day-one fans?
Sammie: I just want to say… I love y’all. Thank y’all for having me back. Thank you for caring about my music. Every time I come back, they’re there with open arms. That’s the thing that I’m most humble and grateful for, because it’s so easy to be forgotten about, and it’s so easy for them to move on to the next R&B sensation. So, thank you for the loyalty, and I hope that y’all enjoy this Everlasting album!
Parlé Mag: Happy Birthday to you!
Sammie: Thank you, Queen! I appreciate that. Hope you enjoy the project!
Check out Sammie’s new video to his song, “H.L.I.T.L,” below!
Don’t forget to catch up with Sammie on social media!
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