Sunday 4 June 2023 at 7:00pm
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Sampa The Great is poised to be her highest self. In just a few short years, the Zambian artist (born Sampa Tembo) has established herself as one of global rap’s most compelling and outspoken voices. Her new album, As Above, So Below (Sept 9, 2022 release), emancipates the artist from expectations— and enables her to stand in her truth as a woman. “It's a huge self-love note to myself,” she says. “You’re allowed to show your full range as a human being. It’s a personal journey because I wasn’t allowing myself to do that.”
The 28-year-old recorded her sophomore album over the course of two weeks while back home in Zambia during the pandemic. As Above represents Sampa's outside self, while So Below translates the Sampa within, uniting to reveal the highest version of herself— honest, without a mask or role to play. To bring the album to life, she worked with a network of friends, family and South African creatives: Mag44 serves as the project’s executive producer and co-producers are Sampa Tembo (her first producer credit), Sam Nyambe, Sammy Masta and Solomon Plate. For Sampa, working with the legendary Mag44, a groundbreaker in propagating Zambian sounds throughout the world, is a dream come true. She says of him: “You’re the spark, you’re the innovator. Our very own African Timbaland.”
She navigates the album’s thesis that “the outer world is literally a manifestation of our inner chaos” through Eve, which represents the artist’s ideal version of herself from the serious to the sensual. “The woman I’ve always wanted to be is Eve,” she says. Wordplaying on the first woman, Sampa intends to be the first woman in her family to redefine what African women can be, and break generational stereotypes. Sampa is becoming Eve. She explains: “As a woman in hip-hop, there’s always a one-dimensional way of expressing who we are. I wanted to make sure that my womanhood is expressed in a way that’s comfortable to me and in my art.
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