By Steve DiCarlo > Senior > Creative Writing > Hofstra University, Photos By Merri Cyr, Hedi Slimane and Ryan Birchfield
With his fan base increasing after every song he put out and show he performed, 23-year-old Sam Adams didn’t have much time to figure out what kind of artist he wanted to be. All he knew was that he wasn’t going to be placed into a singular genre and forced to stick with it. “I grew up with hip-hop, but my music is more pop-sounding hip-hop. I really don’t care, though. A lot of people give pop a negative connotation, but even the best – Eminem, Drake – they do pop too.”
Sammy ‘Wiz’ Adams
Samuel Adams Wisner was just your average everyday college kid. He majored in political science, loved philosophy, and when he wasn’t doing homework or hanging out with friends, you could find him out on Trinity College’s soccer field, where he captained the school’s team. Very few knew about Adams’ passion for music. “I always had dreams as a little kid of being a musician, but I didn’t know how to captivate an audience. So I kept my music to myself.”
In 2009, Adams pulled out his notebook and started writing some verses about hating school and wanting to party and hang out with friends. His scribbles soon turned into “I Hate College (Remix),” which used the beat of Asher Roth’s hit “I Love College.” Adams produced the song on his laptop with inexpensive recording equipment, and initially, didn’t like how it turned out. So when he put samples of the song online, he had no idea that his little experiment would garnish so much attention. “The song not only got college kids engaged, but young kids looking to go to college were listening too.” The song went viral, quickly gaining over 5 million views on YouTube. From there, Adams’ life kicked into overdrive, and he became Sammy ‘Wiz’ Adams.
Being a white hip-hop artist, comparisons were automatically made to Eminem, and fans of other college-aged white rappers like Chris Webby and Mac Miller filled Adam’s videos and Facebook page with insults. “Why would people want to believe that a white kid from Boston could go big on his own, without any major labels? It’s what everyone else wants to do, and when someone else does it before them, they think that there’s nothing left to do but hate.” Adams knew that there were a few people sticking up their middle fingers at each of his shows, but he chose to focus on the thousands of fans that were screaming his name. “Being an artist, it’s really easy to get lost in what people say. You have to surround yourself with people who believe in what you’re doing.” Adams did exactly that; he signed to 1st Round Records, an independent record label that longtime friends of Sam created just for the opportunity to sign him.
The greatest surge of hatred came after what was one of the happiest moments of Adams’ career as an artist – his album, Boston’s Boy, hitting #1 on the iTunes hip-hop charts. “We knew that meant there’d soon be a lot more people gunning for us and a lot of hate coming, but we didn’t care. It was unbelievable. We did the impossible.” And sure enough, tens of thousands of college students began submitting requests on his Facebook page to play at their schools. Whether he realized it or not, Adams had become a celebrity. “I am a f—king human being. I’m very much like anyone else,” Adams states. “Going out and having everyone know who I am is both very cool and very scary. Staying humble is definitely the most important thing; it’s something I always keep at the back of my head.”
At the start of Adams’ career, he had to work his touring schedule around his already busy athletic and class schedules. Now, he focuses his time solely on his music, and is about to embark on a two-month long college tour. That’s not the only news fans should be excited about. “We’re probably gonna sign to Interscope Records.” This would likely result in more tours and increased radio play, but Adams promises that getting signed to a major label won’t change him and his music. Adams is known by his fans for his passionate and personal lyrics. After being signed, Sam promises that he will continue to write from the heart. “The music is the music, and we made that pretty clear when we were in talks of signing. I’ll just write more pop hip-hop songs with big hooks and bridges to put on the radio.”
There was a time where Sam Adams thought he could have a career in political science. Hip hop was simply a passion of his; he never expected a dorm room rap experiment to lead to a #1 album on iTunes and over 250,000 Facebook fans. “Always be open to the perfect accident. Opportunity and luck work hand in hand, so if you’re prepared and open to being lucky, you’ll find exactly what you wanna do in life. Don’t focus on what anyone says. All that matters is what you do.”
The stresses of performing across the country during his senior year forced Adams to drop out of college. "If I could go back, maybe I would try to graduate," reflects Adams. "I might have done something more with writing, to improve my vocab and increase my writing capabilities. But to be honest, I had a pretty f–king good time in college."