Sampa the Great

Sampa the Great

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About Sampa the Great

Sampa the Great is the rare artist who can sound in one verse like she’s having the most private, conspiratorial talk with the listener, before sounding like she’s speaking to a global network of like-minded millions in the next. Such is the adaptability that the rapper and singer has shown since she broke through with the EP HERoes Act 2 and the mixtape Birds and the BEE9, both released in 2017. Born in Zambia in 1993, Sampa Tembo has spent her life moving: south to Botswana, across the Atlantic to Los Angeles and San Francisco and the Pacific to Sydney, and eventually to Melbourne. To hear her tell it, this helped shape the artist she’d become by clarifying what she found important. “I don’t need home to feel important,” she raps on “Mwana”, “but I need a feeling of peace.” On that song, the opening track from 2019’s sprawling The Return, her voice at points becomes nearly percussive. Sampa folds innumerable sounds from Africa and the Americas into her work, but what her records primarily channel is the fearless risk-taking of the most experimental ’90s hip-hop, its venue shifted and its face remade.

Ndola, Zambia
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