It’s been over a year since Dijon SAMO (FKA LaVi$h) released an official album. And today, we present to you his breakout work Life, As We Know It [LAWKI, for short]. We$t Coa$t born and bred, the Nouveau Riche Records (URNR.TV) representative began working on LAWKI in 2011. For two years, SAMO took the time needed and the space required for his creativity to reach new heights; he brought in his production team, ForeverToday, (primarily working with Sa’eed) to create the unique sounds that effervesce throughout the album. And as you’ll discover, a vast majoroty of the album is 100% original. Only “REM” (produced by Sa’eed) and “Vices” (NAEM) sample Toro Y Moi, a favorite of both SAMO & Sa’eed. SAMO has matured over the last two years, and it shimmers throughout the album. He’s also built quite the catalogue, including work with Rome Fortune (soon to be released), Western Tink, Buddy of i AM OTHER, Casey Veggies, Pyramid Vritra, LeftHandMitch, and Ceej of Two9.
The album was originally delayed after the Polaroid Co. threatened to sue SAMO for originally titling the album Polaroid (a reference to SAMO’s desire to capture the good and bad times that characterized his life). So he did what any self-respecting (and attorney-lacking) artist would do : he scrapped that whole project, changed his name from LaVi$h to Dijon SAMO, moved to New York, and renamed the album to LAWKI (but Fuck the Polaroid Co. was probably an alternate title). The final album was recorded in New York, Texas, and LA, charting his physical and artistic moves around the country. SAMO’s focus was to build his fan base nationwide, as he’s begun picking up speed in his hometown of Los Angeles, Texas (where he toured every major city) and New York City (headlining shows at SOB’s with Shabazz Palaces, and Santos Party House with Ree$e, Western Tink, and Sam RUBIK). And he’s not just courting the rap world. SAMO has been busy lately collaborating on a limited release of merch with URNR.TV, preparing the album’s visuals, and he recently shot a commercial for Pure Fix Cycles out in LA.
This album is SAMO’s most precious body of work, keeping his voice almost stubbornly alone on a majority of the tracks. Only NAEM, Buddy, and Niko G4 show their voices on this album. Even the production comes from close to home: 3rd Kingdom, Dijon SAMO (he included some self-produced tracks), ForeverToday (his production team), Chuck Wun (of FT), and Sa’eed (of FT) are the only producers on the 13-track album. Sa’eed, a longtime collaborator of SAMO’s, is also a Nouveau Riche favorite. His galactic tonalities and aerated pitches have projected him into a brand of music that few can simultaneously control and allow to auto-define. This mollifying sound is the basis for much of the album, targeting each track with whispers of his influence.
While SAMO’s attempt at garnering a wide audience are endearing, what’s most admirable about this project is its distinctly-relaxed, West Coast atmosphere. Yet there’s no hyphy nods, #BASED nuances, or three-wheel lick-hittin. SAMO is able to siphon the aura of his own particular experience(s) into this album, not rely on pre-existing aesthetics. He explores a host of sounds to capture and explore the aura of his Left Coastal perspective. His roots shine through each and every note on LAWKI. Whether he’s referring to his time in Atlanta’s Zone 6 [Z6ne], Brooklyn Akhis, or the Texas heat, he carries the distinctly-spreading sounds of his dear West Coast. His keen ear for easily-reflected sounds resonates throughout, elevating and dispersing his words directly into the essence of his listeners.
And through this atmosphere, he creates a symbiosis between his sounds : each “region” of rap carries its own aesthetics to those surrounding, amplifying each one’s influence on the other. His trap-hungry snares are accompanied by synth elevations: ATL meets the spirituality of the Pacific sun; his occasional boom-bap currents flow over a bed of hushed trumpets; NYC clobbers into the repose of a coastline cruise; his chopped/slurred drum pangs regain their calm from tamed keys: Screwston, TX slows to the graying skies of the misty Bay area. No matter where life takes SAMO (or, more accurately, where he directs his life), he has no choice but to nod to the sounds of his guarded core. LAWKI is one of the best examples of an author ignoring the perception that one must “know their audience.”
He isn’t speaking to anyone, for anyone, or under the authority of anyone. LAWKI is an unadulterated body of work. SAMO speaks from his own experiences, and projects himself into his own metrics of a successful life. Lending itself to no trend in particular, LAWKI presents a pure individual. Focused, thoughtful, and adventurous, the album reads like a suggestive manifesto. There are no messages or demands made, only an honest exploration of the person SAMO has grown to be. Discover him below.
Listen and buy the album on Bandcamp below.
or stream on SAMO‘s Soundcloud.
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