Having started her professional career outside of her home of Zambia, Sampa The Great returned at the beginning of the pandemic to Africa. As Above, So Below is the result of this return to her roots, embracing the sounds and themes of her origins.
Following her inaugural Coachella performances in 2022, Zambian-born Botswana-raised poet and rapper, Sampa The Great has ushered in a new era with the release of “Lane,” featuring Florida rapper and labelmate, Denzel Curry. The song was the first record released with Loma Vista, and the first taste of her new music since 2019’s ARIA Award and Australian Music Prize-winning debut album, The Return.
After relocating home to Zambia during the pandemic, Sampa reconnected with a different side of herself, one closer to the younger artistry that was nourished growing up in Africa. Now, in an age of authenticity, meet a 360 Sampa, a higher version of herself. “Lane” is Sampa’s call out to create and explore your own lanes, and go beyond what’s prescribed without judgment. A vocoded voice leads the track, to the tune of jilted organs and choral harmonies. A trap beat with a rolling bass melody sets the pace for Sampa to rap in defiance of being shoved in a box, calling out for courage to try willingly and freely. Denzel Curry’s verse is a powerful statement of similar essence, further adding to the gravity of “Lane’s” message.
Accompanying the song is a video directed by Rochelle Rhembard and Imraan Christian. A long-form piece, book-ended and balanced with the spoken-word piece, “Origin” is a fitting reintroduction. From the depths of an underground cave, we are first introduced to Eve: the persona and blueprint of Sampa’s highest version of self. From a juxtaposition of four-walled concrete rooms, to Sampa’s younger self, to children in black suits running through nature with automatic weapons in hand, we follow the story of Sampa’s newest journey. Denzel Curry completes the narrative in a virtual reality headset, rapping in time to spell out a dynamic ending.
Sampa says of “Lane”: “We’re not going to stay in one lane, we’re going to create multiple ones… My truest self encourages me to explore different lanes, and go beyond what I think I know of myself.”
In 2020, Sampa took home three ARIA Awards for her debut album, The Return, including Best Independent Release, Best Female Artist and Best Hip Hop Release before executing a thrilling live performance filmed from a rooftop in Botswana. Later that same month, the Music Victoria Awards saw her take home four wins, including Best Album, Best Solo Artist, Best Soul, Funk, Gospel or R&B Album and Best Song, to cap off a year that included becoming the first solo artist and female musician to win Best Live Act at the National Live Music Awards along with being BET Amplified’s first-ever global artist.
As a highly applauded live performer, Sampa has entertained audiences across the globe with appearances at festivals like Glastonbury, Splendour in the Grass and Laneway, alongside virtual sets for AFROPUNK, Black August and the Roots Picnic, as well as support slots for artists including Kendrick Lamar and Ms Lauryn Hill. In 2022, Sampa The Great performed for the first time at Coachella followed by Lollapalooza, Pickathon and Outside Lands.