From the moment we get started in the charismatic “Elevate,” it’s quite evident that influences from old school funk and R&B are on Sammie B’s mind this summer – and they’re taking her music in some very interesting directions here. Although driven as much by contemporary standards as she is a desire to express from a unique angle, Sammie B has an especially dapper tone to her delivery in his new EP Elevated, and a lot of it has to do with her commitment to balancing the retro with the definitively personal.


Where a lot of other artists would have wanted to take things slow with this kind of a concept piece, I think she was wise to get things off with a bang in the opening track, essentially ensuring that our attention is right where she needs it from the second we press the play button forward. There’s been far too much timidness in and outside of her scene lately, but it doesn’t take more than a casual sit down with the first couple of beats in this record to realize that this is one player who isn’t holding back from us when she steps into the recording studio.

Although compelling with her vocal execution in the song “Elevate,” “Levels” sees Sammie B taking a more relaxed approach to the microphone and yielding a lot more from the natural tension in the music as a result. I would have liked just a little more from the bassline in this track in a standard performance, but given the depth this artist is slinging with every verse, there’s no need for any instrumental indulgence – in fact, quite the opposite.

“Highest” is the most adventurous and, ironically enough, the most mainstream-friendly work you’re going to hear on Elevated, but it’s not without a certain aesthetical flexibility that seems to work as the functional centerpiece of the tracklist. Sammie B is captivatingly fluid with her concept in this EP, and while I think she’s got some formidable competition coming at her from all sides at the moment, there’s nothing here to indicate a lack of resolve when it comes to inventing something original for the listener to relate to.

“Wings,” the concluding track in Elevated, flirts with surreal melodicism ala a fusion of Lauryn Hill and Bia’s more postmodern experiments, but make no mistakes about it – this is another song that stands on its own as well as any of the other works in this tracklist do. I hadn’t been listening to Sammie B before I got into this EP, but if this is a good representation of her presence in the studio – and, more importantly, what she’s able to do with it once she has the attention of everyone in the room – she’s going to have an easy time staying in the headlines she’s earned herself with the release of her new record. Spellbinding but not overambitious, Elevated is just what this summer season needed to have a little edge from the underground hip-hop pulse.

Garth Thomas