Sam Stan’s baby face, charming smile, and positive demeanor are a breath of fresh air in Broward County’s rap scene. With rising rap ringleaders such as Kodak Black and XXXTentacion dogged by charges of battery, sexual assault, and robbery, there's not a lot of positive light shown on rap. But happy is the only state of mind Sam knows as he sports a pink cap with a bright-yellow happy face at the Panera Bread in his hometown, Pembroke Pines.
He adjusts the cap as he takes a seat next to his manager, Gabrielle Roberts, on a rather windy day in the Pines. He looks down and then looks back up with a smile. Born Samuel Stanley to a family including two extremely close older siblings, he has never had a reason to be depressed. “My music is a reflection of my life,” Sam says in reference to "happy raps," a term he coined more than two years ago for his project. “My life has only been positive.”
The best way to describe happy raps, according to Sam, is a cold lemonade on a hot day, which seems to be a much-needed refreshment break here in hell, better known as Broward’s rap scene. “Happy raps are chill vibes,” Sam explains. “It’s not always happy in content but just a relaxing vibe to listen to." His music is far different from the songs that listeners are used to hearing from today’s rap community. Sam’s lyrics are free of references to getting wasted and high, allowing his true personality to shine over nodding beats. His debut project, 2014's Happy Camper, includes five singles with self-revitalizing verses and a reminder that it’s OK to be yourself. “I just want to be happy,” he shouts in the leading single "Be Happy," which allows space for positivity in rap.
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He's been rapping since he was 14 years old, while keeping J. Cole and West Coast rapper Dom Kennedy on repeat. Known for shedding light on political issues, daily life, and reasons to smile, Sam followed suit with his followup, Happy Raps Is Still Alive. There was more than a year gap between albums. “I don’t release music frequently,” he says. “I don’t try to compete with mainstream, because I create off inspiration.” His work fights the “microwave generation” primarily owned by Kodak Black and XXXTentacion. “My intention isn’t to save Broward, but I’m here it help it along."
Sam rifles through his bag and pulls out a laptop covered in stickers from a friend’s brands. “Want to hear something?” he asks. He released Happy Raps Is Still Alive a month ago on SoundCloud and promises new music is on the way. “I’m releasing a new project next month,” he says as he looks at his manager. “The EP has chill vibes, of course, and some love songs.” He presses play on his laptop to reveal smooth raps over a catchy beat. He nods while the track plays and mouths lyrics to his latest projects. He plays a few songs that don't yet have public titles. With a positive mindset, a pink smiley-face cap, and chill vibes, Sam Stan plans to let his life experiences take the lead in his music while making Broward’s rap scene a happier place.