Young Veteran, New Classic: An Interview with Sampa The Great

words by Arjun Chadha
Get Familiar Magazine Issue 01 (November 2019)

On her single "Final Form", Sampa The Great brings a bravado and confidence reminiscent of Jay-Z's "allow me to re-introduce myself' opening-line on "Public Service Announcement". It's a re-introduction for everyone that's missed the memo - Sampa The Great, living is Australia, born in Zambia and raised in Botswana, is a lyrical force to be reckoned with. Boldly rapping "understand your favourite rapper peep my GOAT potential", she reminds her listeners that she's shared the stage with Joey Bada$$, Little Simz, Kendrick Lamar and Lauryn Hill, amongst others. At age 25, she's followed a trajectory that few do - independently releasing a debut mixtape, signing with Big Dada, following-up with an album, while also gaining international traction. Aptly boasting about these achievements on "Final Form", she delivers the punch-line "only four years, fantastic, young veteran, new classic" - fittingly sealing the envelope in which her re-introduction is delivered.  

Sampa The Great - Photo by: Barun Chatterjee

THE GREAT MIXTAPE

Released in 2015, The Great Mixtape, was Sampa's debut project. Rapping effortlessly over beats that could have originated from Flying Lotus' Brainfeeder roster, her lyrical flow and content are cut from a cloth similar to that of MF Doom, Kendrick Lamar and Lauryn Hill. Predominantly grounded in self-discovery, Sampa takes her listeners on a journey, throughout the mixtape, of coming to grips with her identity; battles and victories included - peeling back the different layers of her experiences as an African who has lived in Los Angeles, San Francisco, Zambia, Botswana and Melbourne. "F E M A L E", a head-nodding anthem celebrating women in the same fashion that Jay-Z might boast about his business accolades, is one such triumph - tallying a total of 2.9 million streams on Spotify alone.

Inspired by her mother, the track describes how the strong women in her life have made her feel empowered and proud to be female. Far from a brag-and-boast body of work, even the circumstances in which she birthed her mixtape...

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