QandA: Sam Adams

The best years of your life: Rapper Sam Adams got his start by playing concerts at Greek houses, including a show at K-State that ended with his arrest. Adams is now moving on to play national shows in cities like Chicago and New York.

The best years of your life: Rapper Sam Adams got his start by playing concerts at Greek houses, including a show at K-State that ended with his arrest. Adams is now moving on to play national shows in cities like Chicago and New York. -

I first heard of Sam Adams after my brother attended his performance at K-State’s Lambda Chi fraternity in September. He told me Adams’ show lasted about 30 minutes before police arrived. Adams thought he had a noise permit — the police thought Adams was inciting a riot. Both were partially wrong. Still, Adams was arrested onstage during his song “Driving Me Crazy,” and shaky cell phone footage quickly hit the web, landing on sites like, where one commenter assured, “If SIGMA CHI threw this shit down, it wouldn’t have went down like that [sic].” Regardless, shit did go down like that, and my brother couldn’t have been happier. He brought our Mom’s SUV up to Lawrence last month, filled with five friends, to see Adams’ show at the Granada, to their rave reviews.

Between (allegedly) riotous live shows and iTunes chart-topping singles, 23-year-old Adams has garnered buzz on the college party circuit quicker than most. He phoned in with Jayplay while picking up drive-thru quesadillas to talk about the college scene, Four Loko and what exactly college-scene rappers rap about when they’re past college age.

JP: I want to start with kind of a controversial question. Four Loko: blackout in a can, heaven in a can, or both?

SA: Blackout in a can. I’m not a huge advocate of Four Loko, but I will drink it every once in a while.

JP: You gained a lot of popularity on YouTube with “I Hate College,” a remix of Asher Roth’s song. What’s your experience been like with higher education?

SA: I went to Trinity College in Connecticut, but I’m not in school now. I guess you could say I’m a dropout. I have a couple credits I’ll finish in the future, probably.

JP: As someone who rhymes about college parties a lot and, I assume, has participated in a few, what’s your beer of choice?

SA: My beer of choice is Landshark. It’s light. It’s refreshing. A nice Landshark always makes my day a little bit better. I also call cops Landsharks.

JP: Speaking of cops, why are you playing through Lawrence instead of Manhattan on this tour? [Adams was arrested during a performance at K-State's Lambda Chi fraternity in September.]

SA: I knew that question would come up. I think we have more fans at KU. The arrest was a pretty bizarre situation and I was definitely confused as to why I was getting cuffed. They arrested me onstage for civil disobedience. They said I started a riot, which was absolute horseshit. I think it’s safe to say I won’t ever step foot in Manhattan again.

JP: Have you played any fraternity shows since?

SA: I had to finish up the tour I was on. A lot of those were Greek shows, but we’re on to the big shows now — Oh hold on, I’m actually ordering food right now. [DRIVE-THROUGH SPEAKER NOISE]

Uh yeah, get me two steak quesadillas — my bad, dude. I’m totally ADD right now. What was the next question?

JP: I’ve seen a lot of interviews where you attribute your success to “the college scene.” What role has it played in pushing your music the past year?

SA: There’s a lot of stuff that I try to relate to, keeping positive, witty music that’s laughable. I think having a college kid in the industry is appealing to kids. They think, ‘Hey, this kid is doing what he wants.’

JP: Do you normally tour college towns? I noticed this tour you’re going from Lawrence to cities like Chicago, New York and Philadelphia.

SA: This is more of my first national tour. It’s the first time I get to sell out major venues and what not, which is great. We’re trying to cater to all markets, so obviously the college market is still important, but we’re done playing those.

JP: You’ve said you’re carving your path in the industry differently than similar artists. What have you done differently?

SA: I didn’t sign on a label the first chance I got. I waited. No one has dropped a number one album without being signed like I did. I think it shocked some people, but I wouldn’t have signed anyways. Having no team around you in the industry can be hard because people hate on you pretty hard, but now it’s been amazing to slowly make contacts and assemble my own team. We’re going to tour super hard in 2011, like 300 days in a year. I’m super stoked to get in the studio to record a new album.

JP: Where do you see your music’s audience and subject matter going as you age?

SA: It’s a good question. I don’t know. I try to keep my music as coherent and direct to my lifestyle and experiences as I get older and go though shit in life and the industry.

JP: Who or what would you say are your biggest lyrical influences?

SA: Any old rock: The Beatles, The Eagles, everyone from The Beach Boys and those bands to Big El (who makes me laugh everytime) I love music that’s entertaining to listen to. I like hardcore rappers even though I’m not gangster. Lyrically, I just write everything down — notes all the time going through airports, funny stuff that happens. When you have a melody, it just turns into lyrics.

JP: Outside of hooks, how significant is the subject of a song versus the dance-ability of a song?

SA: I think people pay attention to the beat more than anything, which is unfortunate because you lose a little bit artistically. But that’s what sells. Finding a balance between the two is a recipe for hit makers because you have to get people to move and dance.

JP: Who are your biggest non-musical influences?

SA: Beavis and Butthead. There’s so many funny lines in that movie you can put into lyrics, like ‘I got more slots than Vegas.’ I didn’t even have a TV when I was little, so I’d go watch it at a friend’s. I would also come over and just play your Playstation because I didn’t have one. I wouldn’t hang out — just play your Playstation.

  • Updated Dec. 9, 2010 at 12:00 pm