Album Review Sampa The Great - As Above, So Below

Sounds from Zamrock and kalindula woven seamlessly alongside those of contemporary Western hip hop and soul.

Sampa The Great - As Above, So Below

After spending most of the 2010s based in Australia, the pandemic saw Sampa The Great relocate back to her native Zambia. It’s a move that makes ‘As Above, So Below’ a musical smorgasbord: sounds from Zamrock and kalindula woven seamlessly alongside those of contemporary Western hip hop and soul. Denzel Curry and Joey Bada$$ coexist here alongside Afropop legend Angélique Kidjo, Zamrock staples W.I.T.C.H. and Sampa’s sister, Mwanjé. But Sampa’s unique vocals remain front and centre, from the psychedelic Zamrock of ‘Never Forget’ to the groovy ‘Bona’ - inspired by her upbringing in Botswana - a riveting end to the first half of the album. W.I.T.C.H. appear themselves on the funky ‘Can I Live’, while Kojey Radical makes an appearance on penultimate track ‘IDGAF’. It’s followed by ‘Let Me Be Great’, featuring Kidjo, which is a near perfect blending of classic and contemporary with an electric atmosphere and West African influences. This blending of location and genre isn’t new territory for the 29-year-old, but ‘As Above, So Below’ feels more refined. It’s fair to say there’s no one else quite doing it like Sampa The Great right now.