Long Beach rapper Seafood Sam wants to make you feel free

100%: The soul-soothing artist talks dreams, desserts and wanting to play Busta Rhymes in his biopic.

Seafood Sam is done with negativity – of any kind.

It’s too much!” the rapper says, from his home in Long Beach, California, over a plate of scrambled eggs. I want to make music that makes people feel free; songs that when you listen to them, you don’t think of nothing bad. You’re just in it, even for a couple of minutes.”

Sam’s new single Saylo encapsulates this positivity well. The song was inspired by his son, Salem (it opens with the sweet sound of a laughing baby) and New York rapper Mase’s legendary 1997 track Feel So Good. That was kind of like me doing the West Coast version of that Mase song, but flipping it,” Sam says. He was so smooth and cool.” Saylo, then, is a great primer for what we can expect from Sam’s upcoming album, Standing On Giant Shoulders, which matches R&B with silky-smooth hip-hop that’s steeped in the classic styles of Snoop Dogg and Warren G.

Born and raised in Long Beach, Sam released his first EP, Durag Dreams, in 2018, followed by a string of EPs. Growing up with five siblings, Sam’s single mum often had music playing in the house while doing chores – 80s classics As We Lay by Shirley Murdock to Cheatin’ in the Next Room by Z. Z. Hill, in particular, stand out.

My little brother Chucky, he passed away, and the two of us were into Lil’ Bow Wow,” Sam says. By now, he’s lit up a joint, taking occasional puffs out of the camera’s view. We wanted to be just like him – that’s what birthed my interest in music. After he passed, I was like, I’m gonna get that dream we were always talking about.”

As a bribe, Sam’s mum promised to pay for studio sessions if he did well at school (“the teachers loved me, but I wasn’t the best student”), which worked wonders. Things really got going around then,” he continues.

Now, with new music in the pipeline, Sam feels as though he’s mastered the delicate line between eliciting nostalgia and being taken seriously as an up-and-coming voice in hip-hop.

Through having my kid, I’ve evolved,” he says. I’m writing from a different mindset and opening up my bag of tricks. No more of that give me a beat and I’m a rapper’ type thing. I’m interested in where everything is going to go, arrangements, the whole process. And the best thing? I’m good at it!”


What kinds of emotions and experiences influence your work?

I really like watching biopics about artists, like Ray Charles, Jimi Hendrix, Basquiat. Watching them break through into what it is they wanted to do, that’s a huge motivation for me – I often go off of that. And the weather on the day. It’s raining right now, so I might make a gloomy song. Or I’ll make a song about how I wanna go outside, but I can’t. You know?


Who should play you in a biopic?

Dang, I don’t know. I’ve always wanted to play Busta Rhymes, though. I really think I could do it. Maybe he could play me. That’d be cool.


If you were cooking to impress someone, what would you make?

I’m a sweets person, I like desserts. I can make a mean banana pudding. I’d have a family member whip up some gumbo or something before, and then I’ll bring the pudding over afterwards.


What’s your favourite type of fish?

I don’t have a favourite. I’m gonna have to look into that, even though I did go to the aquarium recently. I’ve always been a crocodile and alligator guy. I learned once that they can cut off their breathing for a long time just to catch their prey, no bubbles, no nothing. But as far as fish, I like Dory!


So what’s the story behind your name?

My little brother who passed away, his real name was Master. My original name was going to be Master Sam, like shifu” – in kung-fu, that’s what they call their sensei. So then Shifu Sam was gonna be my name. But then I thought the way that was spelled was confusing. One of my friends called me Seafood as a joke, and I thought it was funny. I had a show that night and it ended up getting put on the flyer. It rolls off the tongue. People think it’s a parody name, until they hear the music.


You rule the world for a day. What goes down?

All the people that haven’t seen their family in a while, I’d make sure they get to see their people – whether they’re in jail or in the army or whatever. I’m gonna let you see your loved ones.


What’s your trick to get out of a boring conversation at a party?

Hold on real quick, I forgot something over there! Let me come back real quick!” And then just walk away. Imma talk to you tomorrow!” I’m out of there.


Love, like, hate?

I love my son. I like music. I hate people that stomp on other people to get theirs.


What’s your favourite song of all time?

Closer by Goapele. That’s a perfect song.


What can artists do to help save the world?

Care more about the process of how they make their music. Some songs require spontaneity, but sometimes I hear stuff where you can tell they’re not trying to connect. If you care about something, it’ll change the world more. Even with a break-up record, dig deep and really tell me about your break-up. Then you can feel how something was experienced.

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