Sammie

Sammie

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Sammie recorded his first album, 2000's From the Bottom to the Top, at the age of 12. Between then and the recording of his second album, 2006's Sammie, he finished junior high and high school and stayed away from the music industry. Needless to say, the fans who spent all that time waiting for the singer's return shouldn't be surprised to hear a very different voice, one that couldn't possibly be recognized as the same one heard before. In fact, Sammie might as well be considered a new artist, not a returning one, despite his past success. On From the Bottom to the Top, he was a clean-cut kid with a squeaky voice. And though Dallas Austin remains heavily involved on his follow-up, he's quite different now -- which had to be expected, though he never dips into the raunchy territory populated by so many other male singers his age -- and even had a hand in writing almost all of the songs here. With the involvement of Austin, Jazze Pha, Dre & Vidal, and Bryan-Michael Cox, it's apparent Sammie aspires to go toe to toe with Usher, Marques Houston, Mario, and all the other R&B vocalists around his age. He does retain some boyishness, yet he never breaks into a Ray J-like whimper when he's feeling desperate. The album does begin to sag toward the middle and putters around after its front-loaded sequence of highlights, which features yet another electro rehash from Jazze Pha (who outdoes and possibly pokes fun at himself by proclaiming, "This is the greatest moment on Earth!") and top-notch contributions from Cox (which effectively samples Chicago's "Hard Habit to Break") and Dre & Vidal. Even some of Sammie's original fans should be pleasantly surprised by this impressive, assured, and fully developed return. Dropping out of music for six of his teenage years was a pretty big risk, but it should pay off.

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