Shrewsbury's SAMiAM uses hip hop as outlet
By Ryan Massad, Contributing Writer
Shrewsbury – While attending St. John's High School, Sam Burr (class of 2007) was the quarterback of the football team, member of the Student Activities Council and a mentor through the Big Brother Big Sister program. Now, he's a gangster rapper.
Alright, maybe the term “gangster” was just for effect, but he is indeed a talented young rapper.
Burr would have freestyle cyphers (an event where a group of rappers take turns) with friends in high school, and took it a little more seriously during his time at Providence College. Upon graduation, he decided it was time to record and perform his music.
His first performance under his stage name “SAMiAM” was at Biagio's Grille in Worcester.
“I arrived with my DJ, and all our gear, and there was already a comedian on-stage doing a set,” he recalled. “I confirmed the show multiple times with the owner, and he still double-booked the place, so they set us up in a dining room in the back. They had to move tables, and it was a very awkward set-up. I knew from that point on, it's be an adventure.”
SAMiAM's first mixtape, “Mixtape for America,” was recorded in late 2011 at Bat Cave studio in Southbridge. The songs were all posted on the popular music sharing site sound cloud.com, and have over 5,000 plays combined. The most popular song, “H.A.M. Newton,” features a “house-type” beat.
For Burr, the writing process requires patience. He'sl typically listen to a beat for a few days without writing down a single word. Once he has a feel for the music, he'sl begin adding his lyrics. He constantly refers back to the music of his influences for inspiration. Most of his influences he said are West Coast rap artists including Dr. Dre, Snoop Dogg, Warren G, and the late Nate Dogg.
One year after releasing “Mixtape for America,” SAMiAM had his biggest performance to date. It was called “Santa-Palooza,” and was held at Precinct bar in Somerville. A completely filled school bus took Burr's fans and friends from Shrewsbury to Somerville for the event. Nearly 200 people crowded into the venue to see SAMiAM perform with experimental rock band Banana Phonetic, featuring Shrewsbury resident Tom Mangan on guitar. ESPN on-air personalities Todd McShay and Ryen Russillo were also in attendance.
The Precinct show also served as an album release party for SAMiAM's second mixtape, titled “TheMoon&i.” It has gotten positive reviews, and has earned Burr some well-deserved local exposure. The album is composed of all original beats, created by Burr's personal friends Soul Controller and Euphony.
He recorded the album at Providence's Beatbox studio, with the help of No Affiliation, a nonprofit music label started by fellow Providence Friar Chris Horn. The project is dedicated to bringing together aspiring musicians in the Providence area and to record music in a professional studio atmosphere. The ultimate goal is to keep Providence kids off the streets and out of gangs.
The ambitious lyricist recently made his first music video, for the song “Sweep My Lungs Away.”
“It was an awesome experience, but I was sweating bullets in that astronaut suit.” Burr said.
The video can be seen on YouTube at http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=J1WU2Smp0Zw.
He isn's ready to quit his day job as a corporate reference manager for EMC, but Burr does hope to be a successful and well-recognized musician one day. As long as his passion and creativity stay the same, he very well may be on his way.
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