Today, Sampa The Great releases her highly anticipated new record, The Return.
At 19 tracks long, The Return is not for a passing listen. This is a record you need to sit with. You should let the music wash over you, and let Sampa take you back home.
For the Zambian-born, Botswana-raised musician and wordsmith, Sampa’s journey of self-discovery, self-care, peace and acceptance is wrapped up masterful production handled primarily by Melbourne’s Silent Jay, while her team (including filmmaker Sanjay De Silva, stylist Ntombi Moyo and vocalists including her little sister Mwanje, Jace XL, Whosane and Thando) have all played their part in bringing Sampa Tembo’s vision to life.
The end result is multi-faceted, emotional and downright gorgeous.
If this is your entry point to Sampa The Great’s music, you’re in for a terrific ride. We’ve picked five album essentials you need to get around.
Everything about this song – from the harmonies to the 90’s R&B throwbacks in the production – buoys Sampa’s vocal tone and rhyming flow.
The song feels like it is heading in a romantic, glossy direction, yet when Sampa starts dropping bars like, “How you selling shows when you don’t got fans?”, we’re taken on a bit of a swerve into some lyrically fire territory.
Possibly the most Lauryn Hill-inspired track on The Return.
The album opener, ‘Mwana’ is gorgeous for a few reasons.
First, we get to hear Sampa’s mother’s language and her voice anchoring the track. A connection to family and the involving of her parents in her music was a part of her creative journey that Sampa first experienced in the making of this album.
You can hear the heart and emotion in this one as her sister Mwanje lays her stunning vocals down. “Don’t cry again,” she sings. “Don’t be afraid, the voice I found has said…”
‘Mwana’ also features the Sunburnt Soul Choir – you’ll hear more from them throughout The Return – a strong group of voices in an already expert mix.
It was the first single from The Return we were hit with this year and man…it definitely proved to be a statement of intent.
Bringing the heat of Zambia to life with crisp and edgy aesthetics and cinematography, the attitude that spits from Sampa as she stomps her way through is enough to make your body move.
Another example of the irresistible nature of The Return as a whole, ‘Heaven’ soars. Featuring Melbourne-based artist Whosane, who also features on ‘Any Day’ and ‘The Return’, we see Sampa vibe off a vocalist who commands as much space confidently on the track as she does.
Dare To Fly
The second time we’re hearing Sampa The Great and Ecca Vandal on a record together and let’s be honest, they make a tight combo. We want more.
Breathy, provoking and melodically strong, ‘Dare To Fly’ feels like a jump of a diving board. Let the sounds rush in around your headphones, there’s such quality in the sonic production of this track. Bust it out on a good sound system.
The Return is out now.
Sampa The Great Tour Dates
Thursday, October 3rd
Byron Bay Brewery, Byron Bay
Friday, October 4th
Caloundra Music Festival, Sunshine Coast
Saturday, October 5th
Woolly Mammoth, Brisbane
Friday, October 18th
Saturday, October 19th
Stonefest Festival, Canberra
Thursday, October 24th
Republic Bar, Hobart
Friday, October 25th
Fat Controller, Adelaide
Saturday, October 26th
Freo Social, Fremantle
Thursday, October 31st
Factory Theatre, Sydney
Saturday, November 2nd
Lost Lands Festival, Melbourne