Sam Adams. Not the beer, the rapper. He’s a 23-year-old from Cambridge, Massachusetts. He first hit the limelight when he parodied Asher Roth’s “I Love College,” and now he’s making music for indie start-up 1st Round Records. Earlier this year he was accused of buying more than $75,000 of his own music on iTunes to boost its popularity. North by Northwestern chatted with the up-and-coming star about drugs, women, the music business and the possibility of a Sam Adams show at Northwestern.
Everyone has a guilty pleasure. What’s your guilty pleasure?
I’d say that if I wouldn’t get extradited from every music community. Guilty pleasure? Smoking immense amounts of marijuana for no reason.
Can that go on the record?
Yeah that can be on the record.
You grew up in Cambridge, which isn’t a traditional breeding ground for rappers. Did your childhood parallel those of your peers?
I mean it varies you know, it’s not like I was growing up in Harlem. It was pretty urban. My high school was pretty much a typical city school you know, four thousand white kids, lot of shit, lot of problems.
You were also captain of the Trinity Men’s soccer team. How did you juggle school, music and athletics?
It was tough. I did a lot better in terms of getting shit done, in terms of responsibility. Being captain of the soccer team, you have all your players, all your boys that you have to take care of and make sure they’re not being retarded. Then there was school and music. So it was definitely tough to juggle, but each sort of offset the other. There was soccer and music to get away from [school].
You first broke into the industry with “I Hate College,” the spin-off of Asher Roth’s “I Love College.”
That sort of came together. It just sort of happened. I was just listening to that song, the instrumental. All the shit just sort of comes together when you’re writing a track. It’s funny how shit works like that.
Are you single?
Along the lines of the ladies, if you had to characterize your ideal woman, who would she be?
(Hesitates) That’s a weighted question. Tall and blonde.
Peers and critics sometimes think you’re arrogant. What do you say to them?
I’d say in hip hop and pop music there tends to be a trend to sort of like want to be cool and want to like date as many girls as you can, it’s like the m.o. of your typical college kid. In terms of the arrogance, tell them to watch some interviews. Yeah, I’m a little confident, sometimes I can be a little cocky, I’m by far more modest than they think. It’s sort of like a double-edged sword. To them I’d just sort of say, do your research a little more, don’t judge a book by it’s cover.
You signed with 1st Round Records instead of going mainstream with someone like Sony or Def Jam. What made you decide to do that, to go with an underdog label?
A lot of reasons. One, for my creative process. I don’t like when someone tries to come in and tell me what to do with my music. That’s sort of part of the feeling, building it from the ground up, and you’re like a self-made artist who’s still a kid. That shit means the world to me — all the major labels said that the album wasn’t ready to be put out, and then it got put out. So it’s like, you guys are fuckin’ wrong. Nobody (in the industry) really cares about you, they just care about capital. People also think I’m arrogant and cocky [for not getting in the industry] but it’s more about being a smart businessman.
In your song lyrics, you talk about traveling the world, partying, and your ”lavish” life. Besides the obvious perks of fame, are there any hidden difficulties that you’ve experienced that fans can’t see?
I mean I think there’s up and downs, there’s more downs than ups once you get there but it depends. You have your friends and you’re having a good time. For me, lavish is being in New York with all my boys, doing whatever the fuck I want. Eating out at restaurants and taking care of my boys and my family and myself. For other people, lavish would be going to a Louis Vuitton store and dropping $10,000. I’d rather drop $10,000 on weed. (Laughs)
Most of your shows are up and down the East Coast. Do you ever think about coming out to Northwestern and partying here for a weekend and doing a show?
Yeah, definitely. I love Chicago and I love that area, so yeah. Someone tried to book me for Northwestern but I think we canceled because we had some other joints, but yeah I’d love to come out there, I hear it’s a fucking blast.