In just a few short years, Sammy Wilk has gone from small-town high schooler in Omaha, Nebraska, to social-media star in L.A.
Wilk started out making videos on Vine with his good friends Jack Gilinsky and Jack Johnson — better known as the rap duo Jack & Jack. At the time, Wilk had just over 350 followers and Jack & Jack had around 300 when they decided to have a competition on who would gain the most followers after posting funny clips.
Now, the 20-year-old doesn’t consider himself a Viner, but credits the app for the start of his social fame. Wilk has more than 1 million followers on Twitter and over 1.5 million followers on Instagram, and those numbers increase every day. After steering away from Vine and collaborating with his good friend (and fellow social-media personality) Skate Maloley on a rap-heavy track, Wilk decided to venture into making his own kind of music to share with his fans.
“I thought it was cool, but I know it wasn’t right — doing the whole rap thing,” Wilk tells Billboard. “I liked writing, but it wasn’t my vibe.”
Soon after he began writing his own music. Wilk released “Could You Be the One?,” his most popular song to date, which sold 11,000 downloads. Less than a year later, in June, the singer-songwriter released “Aye Ma,” which sold 4,000 downloads in the U.S., according to Nielsen Music. Wilk describes his music as a mixture of reggae, pop and hip-hop — something he considers unique on the charts today.
Now, on Friday (Dec. 11), Wilk releases “Could Be,” the first single from his new project to come in early 2016, exclusively on Billboard.com. The single, he says, is more hip-hop-heavy compared to the other tracks on the upcoming project, but it still fits his “island feel” and party sound.
Wilk’s new project will consist of eight songs and features a track with middle school friends Jack & Jack. He says all the songs are influenced by artists he grew up listening to, such as Rebelution, Bob Marley and Mac Miller, and are a select group of his favorite tracks he has created over the past few months.
“I don’t want to call it an album yet; it’s a cool project,” Wilk says. “It’s an entirely different sound, so I’m excited to see how the public takes it and they vibe to it. I’m excited.”
Fans can get a taste of Wilk’s new tunes on the U.S. DigiTour and check out his new single “Could Be” below: