The mononymous Sampha Sisay has been somewhat of a musical pawn until now. Long-awaited – the aptly titled Process is here to prove that he can reign confidently as a solo artist.
Emerging on the scene in 2011 the South-Londoner initially kept a low profile, collaborating with little other than SBTRKT who is also signed with the Young Turks label and Jessie Ware. Two years later however, Sampha’s rich vocal talents were thrust into the spotlight after being sampled on Drake’s slow-tempo hit ‘Too Much’.
Then came the Dual EP – a tease of his distinguished capabilities as a soloist. Dual acted as the threshold to his rocketing career. Musicians soon came knocking, and Sampha answered willingly. 2016 saw the sweet outcome of these fruitful collaborations – having credits on masterful albums from Kanye, Frank Ocean and Solange.
Sampha’s first LP then, is rightfully all about him. After six years of bending over backwords, Process coyly introduces us to the world of Sampha. A world full of soul yet shrouded in mystery.
A personal introduction – opener ‘Plastic 100°C’ addresses a health scare and the fears that strung with it. Anxiety is a common theme throughout the album, and is poignantly addressed on the acclaimed release ‘Blood on Me’. The rousing hook “I swear they smell the blood on me. I hear them coming for me” is a frantic call from a man getting chased by ambiguous figures in ‘grey hoodies’ sang over a haunting piano melody.
‘Kora Sings’ is an up-tempo future-hit which transcends into the intricate sincerity of ‘(No One Knows Me) Like the Piano’. Stripped bare this track exposes Sampha’s character while showcasing his apparently effortless musicianship with no frills required.
More than just a gifted vocalist and producer, Sampha flaunts his artistry, experimenting in ‘Timmy’s Prayer’. Echoing vocals, claps and what sounds like bagpipes, all skate over tessellating synths. Given a podium of his own, Sampha demonstrates with a stylish-ease his ability to govern a musical direction. Sampha’s progression from pawn to potentate is by no means complete but this debut will be a memorable beacon in the Process.