- Words Maria Mukaranda
The California-based artist, Seafood Sam, is crafting a genre-defying sound that blends hip-hop, R&B, and a splash of everything in between.
The roots of Seafood Sam’s artistry stretch beyond his deep-seated respect for lyricism; they delve into the realms of storytelling and philosophy. With a sound that echoes the sophistication of his hometown’s diverse culture, Seafood Sam’s music is a journey through time and emotion. His upcoming endeavour, the EP Afros in the Wind, signifies more than just a new chapter, it marks a personal evolution intertwined with the responsibilities of fatherhood. In fact, a recurring motif throughout his discography is that of family. Seafood Sam might be a moniker, but it’s also a mosaic of influences—originally Shifu Sam, paying homage to his little brother who left an indelible mark on his life, and later, the whimsical addition of ‘Seafood’ after a lighthearted revelation during a movie night.
The rapper’s dive into the realm of music is not just a chronological timeline, it’s becoming a fusion of personal growth, musical exploration, and a deep connection to his roots. Born and raised in a city that birthed Snoop Dogg and Sublime, Seafood Sam mirrors the rich diversity of Long Beach in his sophisticated and versatile approach to music.
In the upcoming EP, alongside his LP Standing on Giant Shoulders – also coming soon – Seafood Sam embarks on a new direction, elevating his focus on instrumentation, writing R&B for the first time, and infusing a meticulous approach that mirrors the rigour of his idols—James Brown, Bobby Brown, and Miles Davis. This isn’t just a progression; it’s an odyssey that stands as a testament to his commitment to creating timeless classics.
Currently, at this stage of this evolution as an artist, his music strives to transcend being just an auditory experience; it’s unfurling into an almost cinematic journey through sun-dappled shades. It’s the convergence of nostalgia and modernity, an homage to the past while paving the way for the future. In this interview, we dive into the streets that shaped him, exploring how his upbringing in a city known for its diversity and dichotomies influences his music. Seafood Sam opens up about the challenges of breaking free from stereotypes, sharing anecdotes of defying expectations and navigating the blurred lines between street life and intellectual creativity. As we unravel his journey, Seafood Sam discusses the personal stories that inspired his upcoming LP, Standing on Giant Shoulders. From the gritty narratives of Tha Dogg Pound to the storytelling inspired by LA’s socio-political landscape, he paints a vivid picture of his artistic evolution.
Who is Seafood Sam?
A futuristic artifact.
Do you have a favourite song in your discography? Which one would you recommend to a new listener – which track best exemplifies what Seafood Sam is about?
I don’t have a favourite song (that’s like asking a parent to pick their favourite child)… However, I’d tell a new listener to start from the beginning with ‘Ramsey’ and work their way up.
Talk us through your foray into your new LP Standing on Giant’s Shoulders – is it an expansion of your current discography, a new direction altogether or somewhere in between?
It’s a new direction because this time around the main focus was the instrumentation (spending countless nights with Tom arranging where the bridge should go or how the intro should start and etc.) to writing R&B for the first time (s/o to A.Lynn) and also just the overall feeling of wanting to put out projects the greats like a Quincy Jones or Dr. Dre would tilt their hats too.
Seeing as how lyricism is important to you, could you talk us through how you interpret lyricism – why do you feel it is so integral to the basis of hip-hop and rap and in which ways do you try to incorporate this into your music?
I got a son, he’s 1 now… and sometime in the future he might be bumping my music, so what I say now could affect how he moves. And on the flip side to that, there’s a lot of kids who grow up without a mom or dad that provides them with words of wisdom so they run to music for that guidance.
Having carved a path of your own somewhat different from mainstream/popular rap today, would you say this is also reflected in your fanbase? Who is the Seafood Sam fan – is there anyone or any type of person you write for in particular; anyone you hope to reach with your music?
Anybody that’s been rocking with me since the beginning knows that I’m still the same seafood sam, on the same mission and simply due to broadening horizons I’ve now elevated the vision. As far as a Seafood Sam fan, they’re usually the coolest one out of whichever circle they roll with (nerds, athletes, gangsters, etc.) whoever’s the coolest usually finds me first and then informs the rest. And I want everyone with a good taste in music to hear it.
Who would be your dream collaborator? Is there any artist in particular you feel could perfectly complement your sound?
Sade, Suga Free, Pharrell, & Curren$y.
Your music is frequently described as perfectly complementing ‘motion’ and scenery – what film do you feel your music could perfectly fit into soundtrack-wise?
Any Blaxploitation film from the ’70s.
Your music seems to blend various genres and eras, incorporating both nostalgia and modernity. What is your approach to navigating the evolving landscape of hip-hop, staying true to your roots while experimenting with new sounds?
I was raised with 2 big brothers and 2 little sisters, so with moms letting everyone each have a turn of choosing what we listened to while driving somewhere or cleaning up the house which made me develop a large of music to get inspired from weather it’s Z.Z. Hill, Bone thugs-n-harmony, John Mayer or Ciara. I heard it all so when pulling ideas creatively it can come from anywhere. And I’m going with the James Brown approach from now on “do it feel good”.
In ‘Saylo’, you talk about your son being an inspiration. How has fatherhood influenced your approach to music, both in content and style?
Same as answer number “4”.
Your father’s influence, both as a former Marine and a figure in your life, seems significant. How has his dual persona impacted your artistic approach, especially in balancing street wisdom with intellectual creativity?
Pops was always a street dude but stayed with a secure job, house & car. He always preached to me “you can hang but you don’t have to follow behind nobody and still get the same respect” so, with being told things like that my whole life… it’s only right I relay that same message in my music.
Your upcoming album, Standing on Giant Shoulders, seems to draw inspiration from musical legends. Can you elaborate on these influences – both people and concepts, from the past and present? Do you see your role as an artist carrying a responsibility to contribute to a musical legacy?
Standing on Giant Shoulders was created with the mentality of 3 G.O.A.T.’s in mind… now all 3 are totally different, but they all have that same confidence and cockiness, while working hard at their crafts and seizing every moment to show it off for the world at that’s… Bobby Brown, Miles Davis & James Brown.
Afros in the Wind EP and the upcoming album seem to reflect personal growth. How do you see your music evolving, and what messages do you want to convey in this new phase of your career?
I see my music evolving by continuing to put more care into the process of making it. And I just hope the music serves as a guideline to a better life.
With the release of your new album and EP, what are your aspirations for the future? Any specific goals or milestones you’re aiming to achieve in the coming years?
Travelling & performing, letting the people feel the music live. And I still wanna buy my momma a house.