Sampha has been a name floating around the music scene for a few years now. His released first EP, Sundanza, in 2010 and then was heavily featured on electronic act SBTRKT’s debut album in 2011. After that, a second EP called Dual hit shelves in 2013, and since then he has worked with notable artists such as Kanye West, Frank Ocean and even Solange on the track, “Don’t Touch My Hair.” Sampha also had a feature on Drake’s recent release More Life, which has also been generating a lot of buzz. With those artists, he sometimes lent his songwriting, his voice, or his production.
But on his debut album he shows that he can do it all wonderfully.
The debut, titled Process, was released in February via Young Turks. This album is comprised of ten soulful and emotional songs which are a mix of electronic, pop and R&B. The album was sort of a cathartic release for Sampha; he lost his father when he was young in 1998, in 2015 his mother died from cancer. Plus, back in 2011, Sampha found a lump on his neck that to this day doctors do not know what it is.
The album opens with the song, “Plastic 100°C,” which references the difficulties he has been dealing with between his parents, his own personal health and the relationships he maintains with his family. The album powers through with further self-examination, dealing with issues that Sampha faces such as anxiety and loss.
The main jewel of this album is in its fourth track, “(No One Knows Me) Like the Piano.” Sampha beautifully sings this ballad about the piano in his childhood family home. He shows his appreciation for the piano that was always there through the hardships he has endured throughout his life. Despite everything, that piano is still there and allows him to release his emotions.
The rest of the album is just as stunning with notable tracks being “Under” and “Timmy’s Prayer,” which has songwriting credits by Kanye West. It’s a great track with lovely production backing Sampha’s hypnotic voice.
Overall, Sampha’s Process is a phenomenal debut from an artist with so much soul beneath the notes he plays and the lyrics he sings. It’s a highly personal album about the process Sampha is constantly undergoing to try and come to terms with the pain he faces every day. This debut not only has soul in abundance — it shows that Sampha is truly oozing with potential and this its a great first realization.