On 2019’s The Return, Zambian-born, Australian-based rapper Sampa The Great presented her manifesto of sorts, as an African woman of the world. The album placed her firmly on the spectrum as one of today’s most unique creators and even garnered her Bandcamp’s No. 1 album of the year. When the pandemic hit, Sampa went back to her native Zambia and reconnected with her roots, delving deeper into the country’s poignant, yet under-represented musical influence — namely of Zamrock. It’s fed into the creation of her newly announced follow-up album, As Above, So Below, due out September 9th and featuring appearances from Denzel Curry, Angelique Kidjo, WITCH, Joey Badass, and others.
The album’s ethos is boldly presented on the latest single, “Never Forget,” an explosion of hip-hop, Zamrock, afrobeats, and traditional African drums. “Who did music, made that sh*t language, African branded? We did,” Sampa proclaims on the track, which features rapper Chef 187, songwriter Tio Nason, and Sampa’s sister, Mwanjé. Zamrock bands of the 70’s like WITCH (who are touring in the US this year) didn’t have the opportunity to tour the world back then, so the genre remained a sleeping giant of sorts — even for a native like Sampa, who grew up in Botswana before moving to Australia. Sampa explains how her enlightenment has now become her journey and it’s masterfully captured in the music video for “Never Forget,” directed by Rharha Nembhard.
“‘Never Forget’ is an ode to Zamrock music,” Sampa says in a statement. “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”
Watch the video for “Never Forget” above and check out the As Above, So Below album artwork and tracklist below.
2. “Lane” Feat. Denzel Curry
3. “Never Forget” Feat. Chef 187, Tio Nason, Mwanjé
4. “Mask On” Feat. Joey Badass
6. “Can I Live” Feat. WITCH
7. “Imposter Syndrome” Feat. James Sakala
9. “Lo Rain” Feat. Mwanjé
10. “IDGAF” Feat. Kojey Radical
11. “Let Me Be Great” Feat Angélique Kidjo
As Above, So Below is out 9/9 via Loma Vista Recordings. Pre-order it here.