Sampa the Great — As Above, So Below — Album Review
Hip-Hop | Rap
The Zambia-born singer, songwriter, and rapper Sampa Tembo, known as Sampa the Great, was an artist that I had discovered the same way that I imagined a lot of other fans had done. Of course, that was the release of one of her most popular singles to this day, 2019’s “Final Form”.
The aforementioned single was one of the earliest teasers to herald the arrival of her debut studio album, titled The Return, which I of course reviewed and enjoyed listening to. Her authenticity and musical homage to her roots were incredibly fruitful on such an album. And for that, Sampa the Great received all of the positive criticism that she undoubtedly deserved.
But here we are now, three years later, with the arrival of her brand new album. Titled As Above, So Below, I hadn’t listened to any of the teaser tracks prior. I’ve said it before, but I often enjoy going in to a new musical project with my perceptions being somewhat of a blank canvas.
But of course, I also had her past musical efforts, and a very exciting cast of featured artists to goo off of in the case of As Above, So Below. Such features included the likes of Denzel Curry, Joey Bada$$, Kojey Radical, and more.
I was excited to find out how Sampa’s musical style and storytelling would develop through this sophomore studio record; it was fair to say that all of the above factors gave me high hopes for this one.
The primary element of As Above, So Below that made it such a brilliant listen was ultimately its consistency. All of the tracks on this project feel tied together expertly well.
Sampa also uses her authenticity to her advantage when it came to shaping the aesthetic of this album as well, in turn giving the overall record a very spiritual and uplifting presence.
And while this may sound like something that goes against my previous statement about the consistency of the album, I feel like there is a good enough variety of feels and moods on this project as well (as far as the various genres that Sampa the Great champions go).
With most of the tracks that are on this album hitting the mark, along with the uplifting atmosphere it creates, As Above, So Below very much gives me similar vibes to how I felt towards Kojey Radical’s Reason To Smile, which was released earlier this year. With that being said though, it came as quite the surprise when “IDGAF” (the track on As Above, So Below that features Kojey Radical himself) turned out to arguably be my least favourite track on the album overall. I think it is primarily the lack of depth that stands as the primary reason. And while there are other moments on the album that admittedly show this, it felt most apparent on “IDGAF”.
Despite the aforementioned comment of lacking depth contributing to the album as a whole having a little of its memorability detracted here (which is a big reason why this isn’t admittedly my best review), it is my only real gripe with As Above, So Below, where the quality of the record is most certainly strong.
In comparison to the likes of The Return, I would actually say that I enjoyed this album even more. Sampa the Great continues to carve out her own unique brand of authentic and soulful hip-hop. And with this, the road of her musical career continues to slope upwards.
Favourite Tracks: Never Forget | Can I Live? | Let Me Be Great
Least Favourite Track: IDGAF
Sampa The Great Pty | Loma Vista | Concord