Rapper, singer, producer, and songwriter Sammus balances her music career with her PhD studies and teaching work at Cornell. Her love of tech, music, and video games comes together in the form of dense and intense lyrics that have wowed fans of nerdcore nationwide. She’s joining us at OSCON to share a few songs and a few thoughts about how she got here and where she’s going.
Sammus (Enongo Lumumba-Kasongo) is an Ithaca, NY-based rap artist, producer, and PhD student in the Department of Science & Technology Studies at Cornell University. Labeled the “rap Aisha Tyler” by MTV Iggy for her intelligent lyrics, Sammus has built a following within the underground hip hop scene and has become one of the faces of black female geeks within the growing nerdcore hip hop movement. Since joining NuBlack Music Group in early 2012, she has opened for such artists as Downtown Boys, Busdriver, Ceschi Ramos, Open Mike Eagle, Awkwafina, and Raekwon. Her high-energy, politically charged performances have led to official shows at SXSW, PAX East, and New York Comic Con among other notable events.
Over the past three years, Sammus has released three Bandcamp best-selling albums (including a Kickstarter-funded Metroid tribute EP), as well a collaborative EP with nerdcore MC Random aka Mega Ran, two remastered video game instrumental EPs with DJ Cutman, and a critically acclaimed beat tape. Her unique story has led to coverage in such well-known publications as Noisey, Afropunk, Impose, Okayplayer, Okayafrica, Bitch, The Mary Sue, and the Austin Chronicle, among others. As her Metroid-inspired name reflects, it is her hope that listeners and future fans will be pleasantly surprised by the contrast between the person society says she should be as an artist and who she actually is.
In addition to managing a full-time music career, Enongo has spent the past seven years as a public school and college-level educator. After graduating from Cornell University in 2008 with a double BA in sociology and science & technology studies, she was accepted into the national teaching program Teach for America and placed in Houston, Texas, where she taught elementary math and science from 2008 to 2010. In the fall semester of 2011, Enongo returned to Cornell as a PhD candidate to pursue an interest a wide array of sound studies topics, including sound and gaming as well as the identity politics of community studios. As an academic in training and very vocal feminist, Enongo has produced articles for publications such as Bitch, For Harriet, Sounding Out!, and The Mary Sue related to issues of race, hip-hop, gaming, and feminism.
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