Chances are you know who Sampha is, but didn’t realize it. That song Too Much by Drake? That’s Sampha’s voice being used as the main element in the beat. That hook on Saint Pablo is my favorite. When his vocals kick in I fucking melt. It makes me think of rainfall, it’s so beautiful. 4422 is technically a Drake, but he doesn’t appear on it (thankfully.) It’s all Sampha and his beautiful vocals over production from FrancisGotHeat. All of these songs have one thing in common: Sampha steals the show on all of them. His voice is unique in the fact that it usually is never really loud. Most of the time he’s singing in this loud-whisper volume, but he hits those high notes? Shit dude it’s an event.
This is shown off all throughout 2017’s Process, his major label debut. This album sees Sampha dealing with a lot of loss. Having lost both of his parents of course had a big effect on him as it would with anyone. He also goes through the motions of a relationship. It was great at the beginning, then as time went on the relationship faltered and fights became more and more common. Neither of them wanting to accept the blame. He does all of this over amazing production. Production so good that if you don’t know what he’s talking about you’d think some of these songs are supposed to be feel-good since they’re so upbeat. That’s the beauty of this album, the juxtaposition (big word.) Timmy’s Prayer is a great example of this. The production on this song is beautiful, it’s backed by a sample of The Coldest Days of My Life by Timmy Thomas, and it’s this somber keyboard (?) solo. The drums added with Sampha’s tone make the song sound way more hopeful than it is. Reading the lyrics Sampha is talking about losing his parents and developing feelings of nihilism. Then the beat drops and it’s like wow is this the same song?
The production on here is fire all the way through. Doesn’t matter if it’s all out or super stripped-down either. (No One Knows Me) Like the Piano is just Sampha singing over himself playing the piano with sparse percussion and the quality of the mic changes so it feels really personal and intimate. This song really revolves around Sampha’s voice and it still works, but in contrast with that you got a song on this album that based around this larger than life production, Blood on Me. This song could be a theme for a new James Bond film, it has that feeling of running away from something and it’s right up on yo ass. That’s pretty much what the song is talking about, running away from sleep paralysis induced visions and the anxiety that causes them to appear. When you read the lyrics and envision this story that Sampha tells it’s like a short film, it’s fire.
As we await Sampha’s follow up to this amazing album it’s hard to not have high expectations because you can’t follow up Process with something lackluster. Not like Sampha has any bad songs under his belt so we shouldn’t have to worry about that. You should listen to this album if you haven’t, there’s no overhyping it. It’s perfectly hyped up enough.
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