I met up with rapper/producer/videographer Sam Lachow outside a bar on Capital hill, where he was celebrating with some drinks after performing with fellow Seattle rapper Raz at Neumos. Even a few beers in, Lachow was incredibly articulate. I had a blast with this interview; I am a huge fan of Lachow’s work and it was cool that he turned out to be such a friendly and down to earth guy in person.
What sort of music did you grow up with before getting into rap?
Before I got into rap it was all soul shit; Bob Dylan, Cat Stevens, that kind of stuff. It was basically what ever my dad listened to. And then I got into pop music when I was a little younger; I liked Blink-182, Sum 41, and Smash mouth. I still like Blink-182. Rap came pretty early though. It was Outkast that really got me into rap. I started listening to them and got obsessed with Andre 3000. I’ve been obsessed with rap ever since then.
What has the progression of your rap career looked like?
I was in the third grade when I wrote my first rap. My family has just moved from Manhattan to Seattle, so it was a rap about the New York subway train, it was actually kind of cool. The first line was “Yo there’s’ people from strange places, with a lot of tattoos and pierced faces”. I started to get serious about rap in high school. I was in a group called Shankbone with a bunch of guys I met in middle school. We were sort of a typical high school rap group, we rapped about high school stuff, and it only lasted until the end of high school. I was sort of the main member; I produced all the beats and I was the most into music. The group did pretty well; we sold out a lot of shows and got a ton of fans, but I knew once college started I would become a solo artist. From there, I put out one album that I worked so hard on called Brand New Bike, which has most of my big songs (Little Man Big City, Hash Muffins). I didn’t really know what to expect; I worked so hard on it but I was worried how it pan out because I don’t know how to promote myself. It sort of got to a point where people really started spreading it and really started to appreciate it. That’s when I knew I could develop a fan base as a solo artist and that I had some sort of future in music. It could be something that I could always do. I’m not looking to blow up huge, I’m just hoping to continue to build on my existing fan base that I can keep giving music, and of course hopefully make some money that I can live off.
What do you think makes the NW rap scene unique?
That’s kind of a hard question for me to answer because in a way I am outside of that “scene” that people associate with Seattle When people say “NW hip-hop”, most people will think of Blue Scholars, Macklemore, Common Market. I know those guys, but they are way older than me; they’re around 30 and I’m 21, so we aren’t the same generation. I’ve met them, but I’ve never done songs with them. I purposefully try to have my own sound rather than being on that list. Having said that, I’m a huge fan of them; I grew up with the Blue Scholars. What I like about Seattle music most is the versatility; everybody sounds so different from one another. I’m a big fan of Blue Scholars, but I’m also a big fan of Nacho Picasso who sounds so different. Then we have somebody like Raz who is also so unique. Everybody I work with has their own thing going on. I think we all have cool different sounds, yet they all sort of come together; we all grew up here, we know the same smoke spots (I’ve probably smoked in the same places as every single one of these rappers). We all know where home is and our sound totally reflects that whether we mean in to or not.
West coast versus East Coast?
Musically, I would say West Coast because I love Bay Area rap; Mac Drew is one of my favorite rappers of all time. But then again I like Biggy more than Tupac; I’m all about flow and I think Biggy is the best rapper ever. When it comes to atmosphere, East Coast. I like the attitude and the way establishments work. When you meet people in New York, it’s friendlier. But at the same time, I feel at home in Seattle, and I’m happiest here. But there’s something about the pace of New York I love, the hustle and bustle suits me well because I’m quite ambitious. A lot of people here just smoke weed and kick it all day, which is great, but I’m only happy if I’m working my butt off on my music and my art and what not.
Given your ambition, how does weed factor into your life?
I used to smoke all the time and still manage to stay on top of all my shit. When I moved to New York, things changed. In New York, it’s $20 a gram verses Seattle’s $10 a gram. I don’t really smoke there unless somebody smokes me out. If I’m going to be smoking, I’m going to smoke at least two grams a day. I’m not about to spend $40 a day on weed. When I come back to Seattle, I kick it with my boy Skyblaow who works at the weed dispensary. He is the most professional stoner I know; he doesn’t smoke weed, he only smokes hash and hash oil. I’ll go to his apartment and because I have no tolerance from not smoking in New York, I’ll take one hash rip off his bong and I’m done. When I’m that high I can’t even kick it with bitches, all I wanna do is watch Game of Thrones and pass out. Sometimes weed does give me creativity and I do like smoking in the studio.
How would your life look different without your music and art?
I have no idea, I can’t even imagine. Art is in my blood; my mom and dad, my grandparents, everybody in my family is big on art, it’s in our family. I wouldn’t have anything without it. I can’t really do school and I can’t do a nine to five. It’s a part of me so I can’t even fathom what my life would look like. I would be a completely different person. I have ADD to, so I was terrible at my job at this restaurant; all I would do is think of lyrics and shit all day.
What has been the most memorable moment of your rap career?
Shankbone’s first show. I was so nervous because I had never been on stage and we were playing with Scribes, who was older than me and had a huge fan base. I was so scared it wasn’t going to work out. Then we got on stage and it was so much fun, and that’s when I realized we had something going and could do something with our music. Everybody knew every single word and I just thought “wow this is making people happy”. My little brother was there and seeing him look up to me like that made me cry.
How do you see yourself evolving as an artist?
Raz and I have an EP that we are working on. It’s a different sound then my other stuff; it’s more serious. Raz is deep lyrically, where as in the past I have made mostly fun upbeat music. It’s pushing me to make more lyrically meaningful. Every album I have done I can see myself getting better. I am still young so I am getting better at what I do with time, and I hope that never stops; I never want to stop growing as an artist. I want to make an album every year.
Any last thoughts?
(To the camera) When you listen to my music and watch my videos, you aren’t just watching a rapper; that’s one of the main things I don’t like, people calling me just a rapper. I rap, but my main thing is production; behind the camera and behind the beats. Watch me grow as not just a rapper, but also as a producer and as a video director. Know that everything I put out, I’m doing it all myself in house.
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Information on Sam Lachow and Raz can be found below (click links to be redirected):