Big Sam From Lil Jon & The East Side Boyz
Big Sam, creative personifier from rap group Lil Jon & the East Side Boyz had a taste for music at an early age, when it was more polished and deliberate, long before crunk music became a profitable genre.
“I was always into music from the first record I got,” he says. “My momma was the one that really got me into music. There was this guy named Young Blood, who would be on the radio every Saturday morning. He played oldies that our parents grew up to—I remember every Saturday, I’d wake up to that and the smell of bacon, grits, eggs, and sausage. I just got into it. My momma would be cleaning the house to the music. In addition, my dad bought me my first rap record. It was the “Double Dutch Bus.” I played that record until the grooves came off it,” laughed Sam. “In the late 80’s they had this event called, “Fresh Fest.” It came to Atlanta. I can’t recall all the headliners, but I remember RUN DMC. Jam Master J came down on a space ship, which was a DJ booth. I thought that was tight. That experience made me want to get into the music side.”
Big Sam and his dad shared a moment during the concert where he looked his father in the face with a starry-eyed grin, and he said, “That’s what I want to do.”
Carrying that glowering passion like an Olympic medalist, Big Sam did just that.
Coincidentally, in 1996, Lil Jon and the East Side Boyz formed, and they debuted their smash single, Who U Wit in 1997. The group released their debut album Get Crunk, Who U Wit: Da Album . In 1999 the group released We Still Crunk! which featured the single, I Like Dem Girlz .
Lil Jon and the East Side Boyz received acclaim. Music executives compared the group to the “Beastie Boys” due to their cadence, high energy and crowd control.
The group went on to release blazing albums including, Put Yo Hood Up (2001), featuring the track Bia Bia . By 2001 the group released Kings of Crunk , along with their anthem I Don't Give A... , featuring Mystikal and Krayzie Bone.
When Big Sam made that declaration to his dad, he was only 13 years old. He even told his dad that he’d perform in the same building as RUN DMC, and he undertook that objective as well.
Big Sam’s father passed away about a year ago, but we can only imagine how great it was for him to be part of the rappers legacy and lengthy music career, starting from that imperative moment at the concert.
“Both my parent were married up until my dad died. They were nothing but supportive,” he asserted. Sam shared that sometime in 1988 he became a DJ, before testing out his skills as a rapper. Sam would load up his car with crates of albums so he could drive to different house parties, and go aawf. Those were simpler days for a music artist. He brags that he was a break-dancer as well, with a group called the “ICE ROCKERS.”
“Back then, I aint gonna lie—when I broke into the industry, I felt like I accomplished something. I made it. Nowadays you can upload a song and hit send, and just because people looked at it, they get their foot in the door. Back then, it took a while to make it. You couldn’t just hit a button and upload your song. We had reel-to-reels. We sent our stuff off through UPS, so it could come back. You are talking about a 2 month process just to get a song out, depending on how fast execs worked,” he talked about the beguiling distinction of breaking into the industry when he became a rapper.
When the East Side Boyz came about, they blew up fast and unexpectedly. Big Sam composed the lyrics to Who U Wit sometime in 92 or 1993, but it didn’t become a commercialized hit until 1997. Sam said that in 1996, he and about 15 of his cronies were at a nightspot in Decatour, Georgia. A song called Here I Go [Mystikal from No Limit Records] blared from the speakers. That’s when they all began chanting the verse from Who U Wit over Mystikal’s record. That catchy mantra simultaneously caught the attention of Lil Jon, who then approached the men on the spot about a record deal. Coincidentally, that’s exactly when Lil Jon & the East Side Boyz was created. In fact, the East Side Boyz first few albums stemmed from material that Sam wrote back in the early 90’s.
“I never did dated rap songs. I always wrote for the future. I could’ve put the song out in 92 or 93, but it wasn’t time," he explained.
“We had a lot of doors closed in our face with “Who U Wit,” says Sam. “The public and the masses didn’t know about the song until 97 because we kept pushing the single. They said that the song didn’t have rapping in it. I remember sitting down with a radio personality, and after he listened to 2-minuts of the song, he said, ‘I like it, but when are ya’ll going to start rapping?’ They didn’t play the song, but six or seven months later, the same people came kicking at our door.”
Sam expressed that rappers should believe in their work and keep pushing until they create the market for their sound, the same as Lil Jon and the East Side Boyz.
Big Sam went on to write and produce records with heavy hitters from the A, who were up-and-coming, including Bone Crusher, Pastor Troy, Lil Scrappy [BME], and ironically, Mystikal, just to name a few rappers from that era.
Big Sam has always created music. He never stopped. In fact, he and Lil Bo recently did a recording called Get it Low with Raz B from B2K. “We did that over the fall. Raz B’s manager reached out. Apparently, Raz B wanted me to do a record for him, so we got in the studio.”