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Sampa The Great At Lollapalooza ’22: African Music Is Unlimited

Written by on August 3, 2022

Afternoons host Nudia Hernandez got the chance to talk with genre-bending African-born musician Sampa the Great at Lollapalooza 2022.

Born in Zambia and raised in Botswana, multi-genre artist Sampa the Great has earned international renown and myriad accolades with albums like Birds and the BEE9 (2017) and The Return (2019). Sampa and her producer Mag44 describe her sound as “hybrid music,” combining influences Sampa carries from the many countries she’s lived in. 

On July 28, Sampa the Great performed at Lollapalooza for the first time, becoming the first Zambian artist to perform at the festival. She sat down with Vocalo afternoons host Nudia Hernandez shortly after her set, and expressed hope her band’s presence at major festivals will open the door for other African artists.

“Being a Black artist in Australia isn’t easy,” Sampa explained to Hernandez. “Being in an industry where a lot of people don’t look like you… a lot of people don’t sound like you isn’t really easy. And I think for a lot of artists we really just wanted to make sure that people know we are here.”

Sampa the Great’s newest album, As Above – So Below, is set for release on September 9. Through the album, Sampa wants to show listeners her range as an artist — and the range of African music.

“We wanted to show you that African music can be taken any way,” she reflected. “It’s not limited to anything. And just showing all the influences in one project.”

The range of influences of As Above – So Below is already exemplified by its three singles. “Bona” is a minimal dance track with earth-shaking bass, “Never Forget” features layered Highlife-inspired drums and guitar, and “Lane” is a dreary, impactful hip-hop track with a hard-hitting verse from Denzel Curry. “Never Forget” was also released with a stunning music video featuring Sampa and her guests showing off some mind-blowing futuristic costumes juxtaposed with 1970s footage of Zambia.

Sampa and Hernandez also discussed her feature on Barack Obama’s summer playlist, her NPR Tiny Desk (home) concert and the potential of African music. Stream their full conversation on YouTube or Spotify below.

Listen to Sampa the Great on Spotify and follow her on Instagram.

Interview and audio production by Nudia Hernandez

Written by George Chiligiris

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