Sampa The Great – As Above, So Below

Rich with positive feelings...

Bold production, rich harmonies and equable beats; Sampa the Great curates a more intimate-feeling sonic experience on new album ‘As Above, So Below’. The follow up to 2019’s ‘The Return’, Sampa’s new project builds on everything that made her last record so good, and simply does it better.

‘As Above, So Below’ opens with ‘Shadows’, a menacing cut centred around a sinister bells loop, bolstered by stacks of lavish harmonies and a healthy dose of beefy 808s. The beat, while punching through the mix, still retains a reserved feel. The addition of African wind instruments and spoken-word passage toward the back end of the track is the nod we need to know this record is going to be quintessentially Sampa the Great. ‘Shadows’ leads into the synth-heavy ‘Lane’ (also the first single from the record), which kicks off with layers of ambient and granular texture and effected vocal chops. Sampa’s flow is subdued yet passionate, and once again we are continually treated to large harmonic moments throughout the track. It also gives us the first feature of the record, with an impeccable verse from Florida rapper Denzel Curry. His energy as an artist is often unrivalled, and his verse here helps the case. 

Sampa The Great – As Above, So Below

Other singles ‘Never Forget’ and ‘Bona’ slot nicely into the feel of the record, with the former boasting a delectable marriage of borderline trip-hop beats and African music. ‘Bona’ ups the energy during the near-half point of the album. The pulsating sub basses and frantic flows from Sampa make an intoxicating experience, with the delicacy of the piano and backing vocals working hard as a stark contrast to the verses. Sampa the Great’s flow, throughout ‘As Above, So Below’, remains cool, calm and collected, but she is never afraid to cross into more frenetic energies. 

Album closer ‘Let Me Be Great’ works perfectly as the final chapter of the record. It encapsulates everything that makes Sampa Sampa; the neo-soul inflections paired with grand choral passages are simply quintessentially here. ‘Let Me Be Great’ is also rich with positive feelings, again a clever contrast to some of the darker instrumental moments on the album.

Sampa the Great’s latest release cements her as someone who ignores any traditional restraints within hip hop. The beautiful blends of genres and crisp production make ‘As Above, So Below’ an enthralling listen, and has Sampa raising the bar for herself once again. 

8/10

Words: James Mellen

-
Join the Clash mailing list for up to the minute music, fashion and film news.