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Portrait of Sammy Streetz

Sammy Streetz

About Sammy Streetz

Philadelphia, PA

If skills could pay the bills, west philly native, Sammy da Bull could live debt free for a lifetime. Maybe two. The self proclaimed “Ovabrook Ovalord” has been patiently waiting in the trenches honing his craft for the precise moment to unleash his lyrical fury, the likes of which the world has yet to see.

It would be his grandfather’s 1980 Cadillac that would give him his 1st taste of jazz, new Orleans style. Sammy quickly fell in love with the music of jazz legends Louis Armstrong, Bunk Johnson and Jelly Roll Norton. The sounds of trombones, trumpets and clarinets interested him and his love for music was born. His mother, an all-American high school clarinet player and his father, an accomplished acoustic guitar player, laid the foundation for Sammy’s musical ambitions to grow. His father would have jam sessions in the basement into the wee hours of the morning. When he was supposed to be sleep, Sammy would listen as his father made beautiful soulful music. Sammy saw music as a means of expression and freedom from middle class living. At age 11, Sammy was introduced to hip hop by older cousins. The year was 1994 and the song was juicy by biggie smalls. Although Sammy was just coming of age, he could relate to what big poppa rapped about because he could step outside and see it for himself. And that’s just what Sammy did.

The inner city drug trade was Sammy’s first taste of the streets. Being the nephew of a mid to high level drug trafficker gave him a front row seat to the action. In the fall of 1997, Sammy was spending learning about the cooking, packaging and sale of crack cocaine and heroine. But numbers were his forte as he excelled in math throughout his middle school years. As a result, in the spring of 1998, young Sammy was appointed lookout and later money holder on his uncle’s main strip. He would do this each day until he uncle came to collect.

Life as a look out was often slow and boring so he turned to the streets for other means of entertainment. Crate ball in the summer months and football in the winter months. At nite, he would write poetry about the days exploits and dream about being bigger than he had ever imagined. Another art form that caught his attention was graffiti. What started out as just a means of marking territory, tuned into widespread chaos with aerosol cans and sharpy markers. For that summer, Sammy and his cohorts terrorized abandoned houses, dilapidated buildings and unmarked cars. The streets was his canvas, his platform to be heard.

With his love for the streets, Sammy felt like he was on cloud nine. But that was about to change. In September of 1998, while making a routine pick up, his uncle was shot ten times by two men with semi auto guns. Once again, Sammy had a front row seat again. Miraculously, none of the shots hit any vital organs and his uncle would make a full recovery but mentally Sammy never did. That scene continues to play on even to this day. He cites it as the profound moment when he had to make a choice; hustle and risk death or prison; or explore other options out of the hood.

1999 would prove to be the much needed fresh start he needed. He continued to do graffiti and poetry but had no idea his pen was mightier than any sword or gun. It wasn’t until his cousin Chris “Caut” Cooper came over his house with handheld tape recorder did it all make sense. It was clear; He was to be a rapper. The greatest of all time. He wanted to produce the music that would define his generation. And so it began. Taking some of his best poetry, he put it over some popular instrumentals and the rest was history. Day after day they would link up and hone their craft. They adopted the street moniker “Death Before Dishonor” and started their ascent to hip hop excellence. Sammy would freestyle in school and in the neighborhood but it was in high school where he got his name and swagger. At a basketball tryout. Sammy was rapping against another student and the crowd like his dominating flow and delivery. As a result, people started calling him Sammy da Bull and the name stuck. Although he had rap dreams, he chose to keep a low profile focusing on getting his diploma.

In 2002, he graduated and enrolled himself in temple university. Not really sure of a major, he went undeclared until he finished his basic classes. During this time he was still recording on karaokes and making demos for people to hear. One day after leaving a rap battle, they bumped into an A&R from Bad Boy Ent. He asked each to freestle, liked what he heard and set up appointments to further develop their sound. The duo worked with said A&R many times throughout the year, but discontinued their relationship after they saw no improvement in their position.

Back at square one, Sammy decided to go a different route in terms of attracting attention from major labels. He decided to launch an independent label where they can have creative control. Thus, he linked up with fellow temple student Malachi “Merksmiles” Grant, who was also considering launching a hip hop label. His label “clearview” and Sammy’s “chronic ill” would combine later that year and form illview entertainment. They established themselves as flagship artists and began to perfect their sound. In the process, Sammy was preparing for the birth of his 1st child. Having to provide for his new family, he made his triumphant return to the streets for fast cash. He got his family situated and in 2006 had a baby boy. Around this time, the pair linked up wit Ill Phil, an up and coming producer for VA. For the next 18 months they wrote over 100 songs prior to the label moving to nyc. Since then, the ill has been in numerous talent show and showcases, featured on other artists projects and released their 1st indie lp called Just Dat Ill vol 1. The follow up effort, vol 2, will hit the streets as a back to school release (09/09/09). Merksmiles Malachi and Sammy will be releasing their respective solo albums in early 2010. Check back for updates, blogs, pics and music. BE FLY. GET ILL.

More About The Artist

Portrait of Sammy Streetz
Sammy Streetz