Sam Scarfo: Gorilla Pimpin’

By: Todd Davis

After a record setting string of wins in New York City’s notorious Fight Klub rap battle arena, defeating Dipset’s 40 Cal among others, New Jersey’s own resident emcee, Sam Scarfo, quickly garnered the attention of Def Jam brass, Jay Z and L.A. Reid. Signed shortly thereafter to the Hip-Hop powerhouse imprint, Sam soon began work on what has since become his highly anticipated, soon-to-be released solo debut. 

In the meantime, and to help whet the appetites of his bevy of fans, both old and new, Scarfo has opted to put out a DVD/Mix-tape combo, Scarlito’s Way. If the response to his official jump-off, ‘Money in the Bag,’ produced by newcomer Indiana Jones, is any indication of what is yet to come, then expect big thangs from the Garden State great.


Let’s just get right into this Scarlito’s Way. What prompted you to drop a mix-tape rather than your long overdue Def Jam Records’ solo debut?

Sam Scarfo: Okay. What it was…‘Cause a lot of my fans been asking me for an album ‘cause the powers that be haven’t released my album yet. So, I kinda tried to give ‘em a mix-tape that was kinda like an album. Well, not really like my album, my album is probably like…My album is ten times better than Scarlito’s Way, but it’s just something…It’s something I wanted to give some people. A mix-tape that kinda felt like an album, but it’s not really an album. {Hosted by DJ Kurupt, the 24-track Scarlito’s Way mix-tape includes several original songs with production from Havoc, Midi Mafia, Alchemist, Emile, Boola, Muscle Men and Formatt. Guest spots include Ne-Yo, Prodigy, 40 Glocc, Straps of Con-Air, Killa Black and Black Myth}

Why has your album’s release date been pushed back so many times? 

Sam Scarfo: I think the state of the music business. I think it’s the state of the music business, and just where things are right now — And, you know, kinda where things are right now. I wouldn’t say that I don’t think it’s anything personal holding my music back. I mean, I was signed off sheer talent alone and songs, so I don’t think that it’s anything that has to do with that. I just think that it’s the state of the music business and nowadays artists have to kind of be their own, (and) kinda market and promote themselves a kinda way. And, a lot of the business side, maybe a lot of the business side, I’m just learning on the job so to speak. Yeah, I’ve learned a lot of the business side while I’m doing it. So, I wouldn’t say it’s long overdue I’m just taking my time making sure it’s done right.

So you are still signed to Def Jam, correct?

Sam Scarfo: Yes, I am.

You are also affiliated with Mobb Deep and Infamous Records, right?

Sam Scarfo: Uh…Naw, they just homeboys of mine. I mean, I’m affiliated ‘cause we cool, but it ain’t like I was never signed to Infamous though.

You all toured a great deal around the time they released their G Unit debut, Blood Money, didn’t you?

Sam Scarfo: Yeah, yeah. Definitely toured together and I’m definitely still a fan.

In light of the recent events of Prodigy’s gun charge trial and subsequent conviction and prison term, do you have any words for your musical comrade?

Sam Scarfo: Um…You know, P just hold your head up. You know this is a thing that a lot of rappers, sometime before we become rappers go through, and now it’s coming out when we become rappers. This is a thing that people are going through. Jail, it’s actually a staple in our community. You know, I would just tell P to hold his head, and it ain’t forever. It ain’t forever, and when he come out he’s gonna have fans waiting for him and he’s gonna have loyal supporters waiting for him. He’s got a strong support system. He should be good.

Do you think being that he is a high profile Hip-Hop artist that he was unfairly targeted by the Hip-Hop police?

Sam Scarfo: Definitely! Definitely was unfairly targeted. I was there. We get followed and all types of shit like that. So, they want to catch us red handed with guns and this and that and this, not even really knowing the lifestyle that we have to live. So, I definitely feel that P was unfairly targeted. He’s not a menace to society.

On a less somber note, tell me what can be expected from your forthcoming first solo release?

Sam Scarfo: It’s just real. My album, it’s real. It’s real me. A lot of the subject matter, the majority of society is gonna be able to relate to. I’m not gonna be too street to where people that’s not in the street is not gonna be able to grasp onto it, and it’s not gonna be over anyone’s head. I’m not trying to outsmart my fans either. I just want to kinda just give ‘em…I kinda want to give them what they see everyday, the average rap fan. {Production comes courtesy of Havoc from Mobb Deep, EZ Elpee, Midi Mafia, Ty Fyffe, Fred Wreck and Rick Rock. Special cameo appearances, so far, include Buju Banton, Patti LaBelle, Nate Dogg, Fabolous, Ghostface Killah and Prodigy of Mobb Deep}

Has it been titled yet?

Sam Scarfo: Definitely. Renegade.

Where did that title actually derive from?

Sam Scarfo: It just comes from the way…It just comes from…It’s like an attitude. The way I came in. Me coming from Jersey, I always been an underdog. Always been an underdog coming from Jersey, coming out of the Fight Klub, not really having any radio media airplay over here. Not really having…You know, Jersey doesn’t have a radio station. So, coming from somewhere where you have to kinda go to another state to get yourself hot, New York. I’ve always just been the underdog, so that’s kinda why I went with the Renegade title. Like, I don’t really…I don’t have any real alliances. It’s my life and family. I don’t have a whole lot of rap friends — It’s just really me.

New Jersey has birthed a number of Hip-Hop acts, past and present. With artists like; Queen Latifah, Naughty by Nature, Lords of the Underground, Redman, The Outsidaz…

Sam Scarfo: Yeah, respect, respect. I just left The Outsidaz — Respect.

So, of these individuals have they actually been a proper representation for New Jersey based Hip-Hop?

Sam Scarfo: Um…Yeah, I would say. Yeah, I mean, Outsidaz is a proper representation of what they do. And, Redman’s a proper representation of what he…I mean, you know, it’s not really just one type of dude. It’s not one kind of, like, with Brooklyn I think that Jay Z does a very good job of representing Brooklyn. And, I think Mos Def does a very, very, very good job of representing Brooklyn. They just do it on two totally different plateaus, and that’s kinda where Redman, Outsidaz… Well, Outsidaz is not really that far from the average street rapper. Outsidaz and Redman, Rah Digga, Joe Budden…Shout out to Serius Jones, Ransom. Anybody that’s trying to show what they do to the public.

Is there, like, a camaraderie of sorts with your fellow New Jerzy rappers?

Sam Scarfo: Uh, yeah, it’s camaraderie. It’s also friendly competition. It’s camaraderie and it’s friendly competition, because we haven’t really had like one thing — What New Jersey’s never really had is a real street rapper that be breaking out, and really be that street rapper from the streets. So, it’s always gonna be a little bit of competition. But, all in all, I don’t feel as though I don’t have any enemies in New Jersey. I go to clubs by myself frequently, jewelry on heavy, and I don’t have any enemies.

I recently heard that you are branching out into films. Is acting in your immediate future?

Sam Scarfo: Um, yeah. I want to do some. I mean, I did a movie. I did a movie with Hassan Johnson and Abel Ferrara and Mekhi Phifer and Tawny Dahl — The movie is called A Talent for Trouble. So, I definitely want to keep doing that. I want to keep my acting bug going. So, that’s a definite. I’ll do anything, man, anything that turns out. This is the entertainment business, man — We in the age of reality entertainment. I got a lot to sell, if that’s what we in the age of. {Sam Scarfo also has his own recording imprint, Gorilla Pimp Recordings}

What are your true feelings on today’s Hip-Hop music?

Sam Scarfo: I’m definitely not happy with the state of rap music. Rap music in general, I mean, I wish…I grew up off Biggie and Jay Z, Nas, 2Pac, when he was really crazy, and you know, I think that if the music was a little better, if it was more…If it wasn’t so much politics in the game, and it was more new rappers getting their shine, and it was just more open to the public, the gate could open up and be better. But, right now seems like everything is being funneled through a little small hole, so that’s kinda why the state of the business is where it’s at.

Do you think that the illegal downloading and file sharing has basically killed the recording industry as we know it? 

Sam Scarfo: I think the powers that be have to figure it out. Like before you didn’t get free music the way you get free music now. The Hip-Hop artist has to work twenty times harder than any other artist. Any rock artist, they don’t have to do mix-tapes and keep releasing songs on the internet to keep your-self going. ‘Cause everybody wants to be a rapper, so in order to stand out you have to keep working. I think that kind of devalues the music a little bit. Like, you remember, like, how back in the day when you wanted that new Nas record you kinda had to wait for the new Nas record? Or, the new Jay Z record, you had to wait for the new Jay Z record. Now Nas can put out a hundred songs, just to stay competitive, a day. So, now it kinda…You kinda lose songs in that…You lose hits, and it’s not really that people aren’t grasping off the actual song the way they used to ‘cause it’s more of a quick high now — Water based crack.

That’s an excellent way to put it!

Sam Scarfo: Yeah, it’s water based crack. It’s not so much where as, like, you put something out and you gotta wait three months for that next record to come out, and you gonna fiend to hear it and you’re gonna drool for it.

What does the future hold for Sam Scarfo?

Sam Scarfo: I see myself definitely getting some money selling something. I mean, whether it be rap music, whether it be anything, selling T-Shirts. I’m gonna be doing something. I ain’t gonna be fucked up.

Scarlito’s Way, the mix-tape, is that available now?

Sam Scarfo: Scarlito’s Way coming up. It’s available now, so you can go online and get it. Or, the official, official…I put some out right now, put some out just to put ‘em out, but the official release date is 01/18, though I put a lot of free copies out right now, so…

And, when can Renegade be expected?

Sam Scarfo: Uh…Hopefully in ’08, man. Keep my fingers crossed, hopefully ’08!

Are you looking at a particular target date?

Sam Scarfo: Shooting for the middle of ’08, man, for Renegade. {His recording contract also allots for future releases from him and his four-man crew, Con-Air}

Any message for the readers of Rap Industry Dot Com?

Sam Scarfo: What’s up? Check for that Scarlito’s Way, man. Hit me up on My Space., or check my website out, I’m on there. I do a weekly blog, too. So, you can check that out, too. So, that’s on my My Space every week. I do a weekly video blog, so if you want to hear what’s going on with Sam Scarface just tune in right there.

Thanks, bro, for chatting with me.

Sam Scarfo: Thanks, Todd.

Good luck with the album, and continued success to you!

Sam Scarfo: You, too, homey.