By Chris Jay 08/18/2011
Groove is in the gridiron
As the comedian George Carlin once hilariously noted in his classic routine, “Baseball vs. Football,” football is a violent sport. Those who are called to play it, while not necessarily violent themselves, have to at least enjoy an element of violence or, let’s face it, they’d play golf. In the case of former football hero and now grooved-out, hip-hop phenom Samson, however, the late great Carlin would be left scratching his head.
Drop the ball and pass the mic
Samson, born Samson Szakacy, was a standout football star for Camarillo High School. The 6-foot 4-inch quarterback was so good that he fielded several college offers, ultimately landing at Arizona State University. Unfortunately, injuries and two surgeries kept him on the sidelines for much of his college career, but it led to perhaps a higher calling in the less physically demanding world of music. Blending his love of virtually all genres, the QB turned MC’s own style is part hip-hop, part reggae, part rock and even a healthy dose of spoken word, as his debut CD, Chasing Truth, shows. Already a popular guy before his music career — being a tall quarterback on a party campus and a genuinely warm and friendly person will do that — he also benefits from having two home bases. Despite being fairly new to the live stage, he has been packing them in, in the Tempe area and locally, as his last headline show at Rock City Studios in Camarillo earlier this year was one of the biggest turnouts the venue has ever had.
Not only is Samson an exception in the football world, he’s also an exception in the hip-hop world of boastful rhymes and wannabe gangster backgrounds. Having just graduated from ASU, his unique vision, on the world and our place in it, is more Confucius than Jay Z. For example, when asked whether he considers himself a Ventura County artist or Phoenix, Ariz., artist, he simply answers, “I’m a planet Earth artist.” When asked about what genre he considers himself, he says, “Honest.” When asked what his fan base is made of, he responds, “Family.” While at first glance it comes off as hippie jargon, Samson truly believes that life is a journey and we are all in it together, and if you listen long enough, you start to see the positive appeal.
With his second record, Angels, set to be released this week, Samson will be performing again locally at Spencer Makenzie’s Block Party in Ventura at the end of the month with his Arizona backup band, or as he calls them, “collaborators,” the VeraGroove. It’s performance not to miss because the travel-happy, wandering nature of Samson is rearing its head again. The religion major is planning to visit and possibly relocate to Israel, where he’s thinking about living communally and, of course taking his music worldwide. As the long-haired potential shaman explains after a midnight workout, “I live the music. It takes me where it wants to go. Right now I feel in my heart that I need to be in Israel.” As for how his new fan base can even keep up with his globetrotting, he’s at least straightforward about that, laughingly admitting, “Facebook.”
Samson and the VeraGroove perform Sunday, Aug. 28, at Spencer Makenzie’s End of Summer Block Party, 806 E. Thompson Blvd.