Enongo Lumumba-Kasongo (born March 20, 1986), known as Sammus, often stylized as SΔMMUS, is an American underground rapper, former teacher, PhD student and record producer.
Enongo Lumumba-Kasongo was born in Rhinebeck, NY to an Ivorian mother and Congolese father. (Patrice Lumumba, former Prime Minister of Congo, was her great uncle.) Her parents, both professors, moved her family to Ithaca, NY at an early age, her mother teaching at Cornell University and her father at Wells College.
She began producing music in highschool under the name DJ Eno, first using the PlayStation programme MTV Music Generator, and the digital audio workstation Reason to create beats. When she was trying to pick a new name for herself, a friend recommended the name Samus, after the main character of the Metroid series of games, after both are women in male dominated genres.
Sammus holds a bachelor's degree from Cornell University. She then worked full-time as teacher, in Houston, Texas for Teach for America. Sammus then returned to Cornell in Fall 2011 to pursue a PhD in Science and Technology Studies.
Sammus' influences started with her older brother Disashi (currently a member of Gym Class Heroes), who exposed her both to video games and alternative rock bands like Weezer and Nirvana. In addition, Sammus has stated that she has been heavily influenced by Kanye West, particularly his debut album The College Dropout:
It just hit me at the right time. I was about to go into college, and I think prior to that album dropping, I hadn't felt like I could have a voice in hip hop. What [was] represented were two sides of the spectrum: you had 'I have a lot of money, and I do a lot of cool things with my money'—hip hop that was on MTV—and then there was the super lyrical, quite conscious, Mos Def, 'let's talk about the system.' And I didn't feel qualified to contribute to any of that discussion, because my problems were kind of like: 'uhh, I don't want to go to school...' And here was Kanye West talking specifically about 'I don't want to go to school!'— Sammus, The Ithacast
Sammus released her debut EP Fly Nerd in 2010. She followed up with the album M'Other Brain in 2012. After Mega Ran was exposed to Sammus' music, the two began collaborating. In 2013, within a few hours of releasing her second album, Prime, it became the bestselling rap album on Bandcamp. In December 2013, Sammus launched a Kickstarter campaign for her fourth album, a concept album based on Metroid. This album, Another M earned her fans of the nerdcore subgenre.
In a 2015 interview, Sammus clarified that she doesn't identify herself primarily as a nerdcore rapper, but is comfortable with the label, having found that nerdcore fans often develop a broader appreciation of hip hop: "If that helps people make sense of what I’m doing, then sure. I’m learning that label helps them to enter the genre. They come into hip-hop through nerdcore, and after they listen to someone like me, they say, ‘Okay, hip-hop’s not so scary. I can listen to more of this.’"
Sammus has toured the U.S. with Mega Ran on the Rappers with Arm Cannons tour in 2015. She has performed at the SXSW Music Festival in 2015 and will return in 2016, the Penny Arcade Expo (PAX East) in 2015, Geek Girl Con in 2014 and 2015 with plans to return in 2016. She has additionally performed at the east coast's music and gaming festival, MAGfest, in 2015 and 2016.
- 2010 - Fly Nerd (EP, self-released)
- 2012 - M'Other Brain (self-released)
- 2012 - Reset: Instrumentals (self-released)
- 2013 - Prime (NuBlack Music Group)
- 2013 - Nerdcore Instrumentals: Castlevania Edition (with DJ Cutman)
- 2013 - Castlevania: The Nocturnal Cantata (Joypad Records)
- 2014 - Another M (NuBlack Music Group)
- 2014 - Nerdcore Instrumentals 2 (with DJ Cutman)
- 2016 - InFusion (EP, NuBlack Music Group)
- 2016 - Pieces in Space (Don Giovanni Records)