Guitar slung low, microphone turned up, and emotion overflowing, Joe Samba taps into rock ‘n’ roll spirit and reggae soul all at once. The Massachusetts-born singer, songwriter, and guitarist sonically teeters on an axis of island-inflected grooves and gritty guitar-craft balanced by his dynamic vocals. He finds the sweet spot between smoked-out Caribbean bliss and sweat-soaked punkified energy. It’s why he’s quietly emerged as a phenomenon, toppling charts at #1 and performing alongside everyone from The Dirty Heads to Pepper.
However, he’s primed to unite not only genres, but people as well through a series of 2023 releases and much more to come.
“No matter what walk of life you’re from, I’d love for you to hear the conviction in my music,” he notes. “I hope you think, ‘This dude meant it’. Maybe you relate to what I’m singing about or just cut loose for a little bit. I just write songs and try to connect with people.”
He recognized music’s inherent power to connect as a kid. Dad played bass in a local favorite funk band, while his two older brothers followed suit by picking up the same instrument. At barely seven-years-old, pops pulled Joe up on stage and he busted out a wild rendition of “I Feel Good” by James Brown, leaving the crowd speechless and, unassumingly, deciding his fate. As a teen, he even played at the Boston date of the Warped Tour in his metal band. Post-high school, he cut his teeth by performing in countless bars and watering holes solo. 2019 saw him make a major splash with The Wrong Impression. It bowed at #1 on the Billboard Reggae Albums Chart and clocked over 2 million streams.
At the onset of the Pandemic, he fell in love with Key West and relocated, gigging in bars around Duval Street and writing as much as possible.
“I moved because it’s absolutely beautiful,” he grins. “It felt like the end of the world, but I was in this amazing town. I found comfort in knowing if everything blew up in my face, I could drink a Corona in the Keys and keep jamming.”
On the other side of the Pandemic, he returned to New Hampshire with his fiancé and newborn son in tow, settling near his family once again. Signing to LAW Records, he continued to evolve with 2022’s Far From Forever highlighted by fan favorites such as “Create Something,” “Beef,” and “Got it All.” At the same time, he coped with depression, infusing darker experiences into his music in an effort to confront them.
“Before I was engaged and my son was born, I went through a really depressing path of life,” he admits. “If you have a past trauma you can’t get over, it will hold you back. However, I want to let people know everyone feels shitty from time to time. So much reggae is happy all the time, but I wanted to get into another vibe.”
That’s precisely what he does on the 2022 single “Boomer Economy.” On the track, a thrash-y guitar riff crashes right into a laidback reggae break as he alternates between galloping rapid delivery and a magnetic chantable chorus, attempting to bridge the generational gap.
“My dad is a boomer, and we butt heads sometimes,” he explains. “I love him to death. It’s scary how alike we are, but he’s from a different time. I was living at home in my twenties, and he was on me about getting out of there. I was feeling rebellious like, ‘Why do we need to argue about this bullshit when we’re trying to preach the same message?’ It doesn’t say, ‘I’m right and you’re wrong’. It’s about trying to find healthy common ground, but still having a ‘fuck you’ attitude,” he grins.
By building musical common ground on a foundation of honest emotion, Joe has the power to speak to any generation with more music on the horizon.
“It doesn’t matter who you are I hope you feel what I’m saying,” he leaves off. “Right now, I have everything I need. The universe dumped it all into my lap: ‘Here’s the family, here’s the career, here’s the team, and here’s the vision’. I’m just jumping on the train like, ‘Let’s do it’.”