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Taking notes from hometown legend E-40, Oakland rapper ALLBLACK combined the bounce-centric production of the region with his own unique vocabulary, delivering vivid put-downs and nods to football through his off-the-wall cadence. With the help of producers from P-Lo to Kenny Beats, the rapper moved from local to international success in the late 2010s, culminating in a feature alongside YG and Blueface on G-Eazy's hit single, "West Coast." Born D'Andre Sams, rapper ALLBLACK spent his youth in Oakland's infamous "Murder Dubs" neighborhood, surrounded by the pimp culture and hustlers' life of the Bay. Influenced by his parents' varied taste (ranging from Journey to Teddy Pendergrass), Sams got his start in rapping in freestyle battles with his brother. Attending Pinole Valley High School, he soon hooked up with some of the area's key players (including later associates Iamsu! and P-Lo), but still had more interest in a potential football career. After being taken to the studio by friends, Sams eventually put his raps to record, producing first project No Shame (2015) while keeping one foot firmly in the street. A stint in jail encouraged the emerging rapper to take music more seriously, and he released the mixtape No Shame 2 under the management of his cousin Rolla. Grounding his material locally with titles like "Roscoes Chicken & Waffles" and "RIP Jamil Brown," Sams' sophomore project combined the bass-heavy production of his contemporaries with his eccentric vocabulary, adding featured friends like Offset Jim and JB Cooler. This approach was developed on 2017's KimSon and 2018's Outcalls; with each project, the Oakland rapper leaned further into his unique lyrics, delivering narratives of street life amid football metaphors and tongue-in-cheek wordplay. The rapper's first international breakout came with 2018's 2 Minute Drills, a collaborative EP with Connecticut-based producer Kenny Beats. Fully embracing his football roots with track titles from "3 Point Stance" to "Weigh Ins," the project found ALLBLACK at his most confident, delivering his inimitable vocabulary over Beats' bounce-centric production. Quick to capitalize on this exposure, Sams landed a placement on G-Eazy's "West Coast" (2019), featured alongside YG and Blueface in an homage to the group's shared California roots. Under the fellow Oakland rapper's wing, Sams found his first taste of the mainstream, performing on late-night shows such as Jimmy Kimmel and at gigs for crowds of 20,000. Later that year, he returned to the studio, releasing the 22nd Ways EP with longtime collaborator and friend Offset Jim. A full-length, TY4FWM, arrived in May 2021 and featured guest spots from Vince Staples, Mozzy, G-Eazy, and more
© David Crone /TiVo
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