SAMPA THE GREAT ANNOUNCES NEW ALBUM AS ABOVE, SO BELOW
NEW SINGLE & VIDEO FOR “NEVER FORGET” FEAT. CHEF 187, TIO NASON & MWANJÉ
AS ABOVE, SO BELOW OUT SEPTEMBER 9
Zambian-born Botswana-raised poet and rapper Sampa The Great announces her sophomore full-length album, As Above, So Below, out worldwide on September 9 via Loma Vista Recordings. Accompanying the news is the release of Sampa’s new single and video, “Never Forget” featuring Chef 187, Tio Nason, and Mwanjé, available to stream and watch now.
After returning home to Zambia during the pandemic, Sampa reconnected with a different side of herself, a side that expresses more purely the nourishment & influence she received from her upbringing in Zambia and represents a return to her younger artistry. From collaborations with South African-based creatives Rochelle Nembhard and Imraan Christian to time spent recording with a long-established network of close friends and family, Sampa unlocks an age of authenticity and debuts a newly revitalized Sampa to the world. As Above, So Below unveils the complexity of Sampa’s being, a quality showcased throughout the record through fusions of weighty intensity and softer sensuality. “As Above” translates as Sampa outside’s self, while “So Below” is the Sampa within, together uniting to reveal the highest version of herself, without a mask, or role to play. Anchoring the record, is Eve, Sampa’s blueprint of her ideal self who manifests within As Above, So Below’s lyrics, and visually appears throughout the album’s forthcoming videos.
Sampa’s newest single arrives as a brandishing ode to the golden era of Zambia’s socially prolific genre, Zamrock. Offering recognition to the music coming out of the African diaspora today while also honoring the stories of those who tread previously, “Never Forget” is the stamp uniting both center-points in history. A choral harmony from Sampa’s own sister Mwanjé heralds the track’s opening, before a low-slung bassline booms out punctuating hooks from Zambian songwriter, Tio Nason. An array of percussion adds a Zambian richness, from traditional Ngoma drums by band Nomakanjani, to hand claps, to marimba to the signature 808’s from Mag 44, one of Zambian’s pioneering hip hop producers.
Accompanying “Never Forget” is today’s official music video, directed by Imraan Christian along with creative direction and on-set direction from Rharna Nembard and Furmaan Ahmed respectively. Starring Sampa The Great, MC Chef 187, Tio Nason, and Mwanjé, the video showcases a darkly lit performance space along with artful choreography and the guilefully costumed personas of Sampa. Interspersed throughout the clip is archival footage of Zambian life in the 70s, including performances from some of the Zamrock acts that have paved the path since. The end result is experienced as a highly cinematic and enthralling vision. The video for “Never Forget” made its global broadcast premiere across BET Soul, BET Jams, MTV Live, MTVU, and Yo! MTV as well as on the Paramount Times Square billboards.
Sampa says on the single & video: “Never Forget” is an ode to Zamrock music, a genre born in the ’70s combining traditional Zambian music and psychedelic rock. In particular, the song focuses on kalindula music. This tribute was inspired by the band WITCH and their lead singer Mr. Jagari Chanda, who has become one of my musical mentors. I discovered Zamrock later in my life and was surprised that this music was known globally, yet not fully celebrated and acknowledged in Zambia today. It hit home for me as I felt similarities in my own journey, having had my career take off outside my birth country. I thought it was fitting to pay homage to those who came before me and merge past, present, and future through music and imagery; passing the baton from one generation to the next. The archival footage in the clip includes the late great Paul Ngozi, the late president Kenneth Kaunda (Zambia’s first president), and the legendary WITCH.
Director Rharha Nembard says: “Never Forget” pays homage to the past, present and future. Acknowledging the ones that have come before, in order for us to be here today. When I first heard the song, the notion of time came up so strongly. African time has always been nonlinear and cyclical. The vision for this video was to explore that notion of time, merging past, present and future simultaneously in a harmonious symphony that honors and pays respect to those that have passed the baton and paved the way for the next generation of Zambian artists. Sampa carries the past, present and future of Zambian music. She stands on the shoulders of giants and this is our offering to them.
Sampa returned earlier this year, with As Above So Below’s first single, “Lane” featuring US rapper Denzel Curry. Ushering in a new era, “Lane” was the first taste of new music from the Zambian artist since 2019’s ARIA Award and Australian Music Prize-winning debut album, The Return. A defiant call out to being shoved in a box, “Lane” was accompanied by a long-form video that book-ended and balanced a spoken word piece, “Origin”, wherein fans were introduced to Sampa’s ideal persona, Eve. The new chapter of music from Sampa The Great accompanied live performances from Sampa in An Afro Future across Sydney and Melbourne throughout May and June. After the postponement of last year’s inaugural and highly anticipated An Afro Future tour, Sampa delivered a spectacular run of rescheduled live performances. The tour marked the first opportunity for fans to see Sampa in a live format with her full band from Zambia, performing from her debut award-winning album, The Return, alongside previewing new music to the energetic crowds.
2019 saw tremendous achievements for Sampa The Great, taking home Best Hip Hop Release for “Final Form” at the ARIA Awards, alongside multiple other wins at the J Awards, and the Music Victoria Music Awards, while breaking industry records by winning the prestigious Australian Music Prize twice in her career. The Return received praise from the likes of The Guardian, NPR, Pitchfork, The FADER, Billboard, OkayAfrica, and countless others, and was succeeded by the re-release of the album track, “Time’s Up” with new verses from New York rapper Junglepussy, collaborations with the likes of The Avalanches, Denzel Curry & Tricky, and a feature on Michelle Obama’s esteemed playlist. In 2020 the appraisals continued, taking home three more ARIA Awards for The Return, securing four wins at the Music Victoria Awards, becoming the first solo artist and female musician to win Best Live Act at the National Live Music Awards, and BET Amplified’s first-ever global artist. As a highly applauded live performer, Sampa has entertained audiences across the globe with appearances at festivals like Glastonbury, Splendour in the Grass, and Laneway, alongside virtual sets for AFROPUNK, Black August, the Roots Picnic, and support slots for artists including Kendrick Lamar and Ms Lauryn Hill. In April this year, Sampa The Great performed for the first time at Coachella 2022, followed by an appearance at Primavera Sound, and a return to Glastonbury Festival this month.
Now as Sampa The Great prepares to introduce her sophomore album, enjoy the creative excellence and deep-running history in “Never Forget” today, ahead of the highly-awaited As Above, So Below in September.
AS ABOVE, SO BELOW TRACKLIST
2. Lane feat. Denzel Curry
3. Never Forget feat. Chef 187, Tio Nason, Mwanjé
4. Mask on feat. Joey Bada$$
6. Can I Live feat. W.I.T.C.H
7. Imposter Syndrome feat. James Sakala
9. Lo Rain feat. Mwanjé
10. IDGAF feat. Kojey Radical
11. Let Me Be Great feat Angélique Kidjo