Portland-based producer Sam “Samarei” Waldo first caught my attention when he produced Strange Fruit for Hanif (the artist formerly known as Luck One) in Spring of ’13. Since then, the Portland State music composition major has continued to work at his craft, teaming with Green Luck Music Group and producing for artists near (Illmaculate, Rey Totem, BigMo, Keegan Baurer) and far (MC Lars, Open Mic Eagle, MC Lars) with his distinctly musical sound.

The laid-back artist recently showed out at this month’s iStandard Producer Showcase in Portland, and before he went on to win the thing, we had a quick conversation in which he excitedly let me know that he had a tape coming out soon. I thought that by “soon” he meant winter, but when this gem showed up in my inbox this last weekend, I must admit I was equal parts shocked and impressed.

In addition to some of the usual suspects (listed above), Best In Class also features contributions from Philadelphia nerdcore star Random, Seattle’s XP and J. Pinder, as well as Portland heavy hitters Farnell Newton, Tope, Epp, Rasheed Jamal, Glenn Waco and Mic Capes. We Out Here Magazine is beyond proud to premiere this amazing project, and we hope you enjoy it as much as we do. We also took some time to talk to Sam about the project, so read on as you listen in. #OutHere

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Mac: This new project has some unexpected features! How long have you been working on it?

Samarei: I’ve been blessed to have so many great artists be a part of this project.  I’ve had the idea since I graduated from PSU in 2012.  The first verse recorded was from Illmaculate almost two years ago.

You recently won the Portland iStandard Producer contest. Talk about good timing! Was that exciting for you?

No doubt! It was great to get the recognition and support for what I’ve been working on.  I’m always trying to find the balance between unique and marketable and this year I felt I hit the mark.

You’ve always been musical, but a few people have recently mentioned to me that your beats sound looser and more natural recently. Did you make adjustments to your process?

Ya, over the past year I’ve been working on using more variation in my work.  I try and deliberately choose each and every note and decide if it truly needs to be there.  I’ve also started focusing on using A LOT more live instruments in my tracks.  Using these things as well as drawing on my classical and jazz background, I’ve finally found a sound that’s unique to me.

What’s your favorite song on the project? And why?

Bringing out all the tough questions I see, this is a hard choice.  I’m going to cheat and pick two though.

As far as instrumentals go, I’d have to say Blacksmith.  That beat has got so much going on, from the walking bass, the keys, and of course Farnell Newton on trumpet.

Lyrically, what Tope said on AGTMCTAE (All Good Things Must Come To An End) really hit home.  The line “lost some friends, got some goddamn fans” struck me personally.  As an artist, not everyone understands the personal sacrifices you make in order for a shot at success.

What’s next?

On October 1st, I leave for two months on tour to do sound (and who knows what else) with MC Lars.  We got 43 shows across the country with MC Chris and Spose.
Check out Samarei on Facebook and Twitter.