Detroit-born, Los Angeles-based producer Sam Baker, best known under the moniker Samiyam can trace the moment his musical career truly started in earnest to when he was at a Detroit strip club Platinum, where he encountered a self-described fan of his, who told him that he needed to take his music more seriously. At the time, Baker was among a group of post-J. Dilla Donuts producers, who focused on instrumental work, rather than the traditional emcee/producer collaborations — and he was circulating beat tapes among local crew in Michigan and through zip files to friends on the web. Eventually, many of those Donuts-inspired producers, including Baker began relocating to Los Angeles and were created a scene around the Low End Theory in East Los Angeles.
As a part of East Los Angeles’ burgeoning producer and artist scene, Baker wound up meeting Flying Lotus, who quickly signed Baker to his Brainfeeder Records and then released the Detroit-born producer’s first two albums, 2008’s Rap Beats Vol. 1 (which was coincidentally, Brainfeeder’s first release) and 2011’s Sam Baker’s Album. 2013 was a big year for Baker as he released his third album Wish You Were Here and did production work for Earl Sweatshirt, Captain Murphy (the alter-ego of the aforementioned Flying Lotus) and Pharoahe Monch.
Animals Have Feelings is his Stone Throw Records debut, and as Baker explains in press notes, he considers the effort a creative sequel to Rap Beats Vol. 1. “Animals has roots in beats made around the time of Vol. 1, and the new stuff on the record has some of the same sound.” And as a result the material on the album is mostly instrumental, beat-driven hip-hop mixed with a few rap tracks he did with a few emcees, who are his few yet frequent collaborators — Earl Sweatshirt, Action Bronson, Jeremiah Jae and Oliver the 2nd.
Now you might recall that a couple of weeks ago, I wrote about album singles “Mr. Wonderful,” Baker’s collaboration with Action Bronson and “Dartgun,” off his Animals Have Feelings album. To celebrate the release of the album, the folks at Stones Throw Records invited him to perform as part of their continuing Dungeon Sessions series — and this particular session features some of Baker’s friends and a pet skunk. Yes, a pet skunk!
Much like the Karriem Riggins and J. Roc J. Dilla tribute, this video was shot in immersive 360º, which allows the viewer to choose the direction and angle that they want to watch the video; unfortunately, the technology isn’t currently available on some browsers — most notably Safari. However, if you’re using Safari or want a pretty trippy viewing experience, check the video out on your smartphone’s YouTube app. I did it on my iPhone 6 and it really puts you in the room with Baker and company.