Anyone who’s hip on hip-hop knows that women are taking over the rap scene. Whether it be A-List artists like Megan Thee Stallion or Cardi B or local artists, audiences are (finally) starting to appreciate women in hip-hop. One of Dallas’ undisputed favorite rappers is Sam Lao, who's been releasing music independently since 2013.
Lao is skilled in many facets of art, including drawing, painting, graphic design and, of course, music. In 2016, upon releasing her mixtape SPCTRM, her song “Pineapple” became an instant classic in Dallas’ independent music scene. “Pineapple” is a fun and empowering jam, which encompasses the sex-positivity of Lil' Kim with the artistic craft of Janelle Monae.
It’s been awhile since Lao has released a full-length project, but she has been finding empowerment in other ways. A year ago, Lao gave birth to a baby girl, who she says has helped her focus on more important matters in her life.
“I’ve been enjoying the mom life, being a creative and slowly working my way back into the scene,” Lao says. “Having a baby definitely changes the way you see the world, think about things and how you express yourself. It’s definitely spilling over into how I write my music. I learned to take care of myself and focus on the things that I want to do and to not be afraid to put myself forward and be a little selfish.”
Coincidentally, “Selfish” is the name of her most recent single, a sultry banger that flutters along acoustic guitar riffs. Lao shows that although she is now a mother, she still maintains sex appeal, and it's her unapologetic duality that inspires other mothers and creatives.
While Lao has played a few gigs over the last two years, she launched a new era while performing “Selfish” at a ’Til Midnight at the Nasher event earlier this month.
“It felt good to be back onstage,” Lao says. “I was super nervous, but I’m always nervous before shows, so that was really nothing new. It was exciting to see some familiar faces and some new faces. There were some people who said, ‘I’ve never heard of you, but I love you.’ It always feels good to receive those responses.”
Lao is returning to the music scene right as women performers take over the hip-hop forefront. She says she can’t be more excited about it.
“There are so many different flavors of female hip-hop, and it’s just so exciting to see that we’ve not been kept down,” Lao says. “We’re kicking the door in and really putting out some great music.”
After experiencing several instances of misogyny in the industry, Lao hopes that as hip-hop culture changes, women will prove that they can take full control of their own careers.
“I can’t tell you how many times people have assumed that somebody else has written my music,” Lao says. “Or how many times I’ll walk into a venue, and instead of speaking to me or asking me questions about my set, they’ll immediately start speaking to my husband, or my DJ, or my manager. Meanwhile, I’m standing right there. Having people treat you that way when you’re in control of everything is really annoying.”
Like other hip-hop artists in Dallas, including 88 Killa, Lao abstains from consuming alcohol.
“For me, drinking was not something that drove my creativity,” Lao says. “If anything, it just drove me to a lot of giggling, eating a lot of shit food and then going to bed. I don’t feel like I’m missing out on anything.”
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Lao is currently in the early stages of making new music and hopes to have an EP out by the end of the year. Next month, she will take the stage with The Bralettes and M3CCA at Girls Club Dallas at Granada Theater.
“I’m still out here,” Lao says. “I’m still Sam Lao, and I’m still going to make dope shit.”
Listen to Sam Lao's new single below: