Sampha’s long awaited debut album has arrived, in what feels like a long time coming…
over the past four years Sampha has been lending his voice and song writing abilities to the biggest names of Hip-Hop and R&B, Drake, Solange, Frank Ocean and Kanye West. With his talents in high demand and with heartbreak in his personal life, he can be forgiven to have taken his time in making this album. Process, is a document of the grief, challenges and angst in Sampha’s life since coming on to the scene in 2010, with his first EP Sundanza and working on SBTRKT’s hugely successful debut album. Losing both parents and living through those experiences, Sampha reflects upon and explores areas of his life few have the courage to confront publically.
The first single released, ‘Timmy’s Prayer’, set the tone for the album, confronting everything that he has gone through in making this album. Standing out on production with eerie sounding bagpipes and marching rhythms, descending into chaotic fast paced synths. Sampha’s beautifully bruised voice only adds to the heartache of former relationships and very real worries he carries with him every day, seen on the songs like ‘Plastic 100C’, “Sleeping with my worries…I didn’t really know what that lump was, my luck”. Sampha often alludes to his mother and father, and the spiritual dimension to this relationship, with obvious yearnings on ‘Incomplete Kisses’. However, where Sampha can be obvious about how he feels, he equally can be less obvious and more abstract with his writing leaving the listener to make their own interpretation.
This is the first time we experience a complete track list of carefully crafted tracks from Sampha, with a mixture of ballads and Hip-Hop inspired tracks. Even though this album’s mood is somber throughout, Sampha’s production style creates songs that you can dance to, which are uplifting at points. Tracks such as ‘Kora sings’ or ‘Under’, which has a heavy kick drum and snare leading the track. One of the standout tracks of this album must be ‘(No one Knows Me) like the piano’, dedicated to his mother, this track has beautifully crafted melodies and lyrics that you can sing along to immediately. Sampha’s production is often layered with delicate sounds that disguise the more dominant instruments, complementing his husky voice.
It is intriguing with Sampha’s history of collaborating or featuring on different artist’s projects that this album comes across as very much a solo effort on all parts. However, experiences with other artists have no doubt helped him develop, he even mentions that working with Kanye he saw how you can allow others in to help to ‘realize [his] vision’. It would be exciting to see what a Sampha album would sound like with involvement from more artists featuring in production or lyrically. For Sampha fans this album is what they have been waiting for and in the process, he has gained a lot more as a result. Sampha has finally shown what he is capable of in all respects, leaving fans anticipating more brilliance in the future.