1. Plastic 100°C
2. Blood On Me
3. Kora Sings
4. No One Knows Me (Like the Piano)
5. Take Me Inside
6. Reverse Faults
8. Timmy’s Prayer
9. Incomplete Kisses
10. What Shouldn’t I Be?
Favorite Tracks:Plastic 100°C, Blood On Me, Kora Sings,No One Knows Me (Like the Piano), Reverse Faults and Under
It’s safe to say Sampha takes his time and plots his musical creations very careful and he really understands when it is best to release them to the world! In 2010, he released his first EP, Sundanza. In 2013, he released his second, Dual. Then, he waited, and waited.(Waiting…..) In the meantime Sampha appeared on every big artist’s albums such as Kanye West’s “The Life of Pablo”, Frank Ocean’s “Endless”, and Solange’s “A Seat at the Table.” Those are some major features without ever dropping a full-length project. Below are some of the very notable features:
• Drake (“Too Much,” “The Motion”)
• Kanye West (“Saint Pablo”)
• Frank Ocean (“Alabama”)
• Solange (“Don’t Touch My Hair”)
For a moment, it seemed Process would drop at the tail end of 2016, but then, he held it once more. Now, here we are in 2017, four years later since Dual; Sampha releases his debut LP, Process. Process is a real meditative project and on it Sampha processes grief and navigates his way through his self-discovery. You also see that Sampha is still trying to cope with heavy loss that he has battled in his life. His father, Joe, passed away from lung cancer in 1998. His mother, Binty, died of cancer in September 2015. It’s crazy to think about, but throughout Process, you feel/hear his mom’s spirit in the stillness of the music, pushing her son in his quest for understanding.
Sampha has even battled his own health struggles as well. Whiles on tour he discovered he had a lump in his throat. He immediately had an endoscopy after this discovery but doctors couldn’t determine a cause. This became a catalyst for the singer to assess his own mortality from this point moving forward. “Sleeping with my worries,” goes the opener in “Plastic 100ºC,” “I didn’t really know what that lump was.” In Sampha’s world, the piano is one of the few things that’s always been there for him. It’s never gotten sick or faded away from an illness. “You would show me I had something some people call a soul,” he sings on “(No One Knows Me) Like the Piano.” This fantastic ballad is one of the many standouts from this incredible debut album. Sampha found a way to incorporate R&B, soul, electronica, and dance all in one project without ever sounding disjointed for one second.
This project is pretty damn complete if you ask me. Some of my favorite tracks on here were Plastic 100°C, Blood On Me, Kora Sings, No One Knows Me (Like the Piano), Reverse Faults and Under. The other tracks were solid as well. There were no throw away tracks on this project, which is something that is pretty rare these days. The opening track, “Plastic 100˚C” starts off with the lyric, “thriving off your lessons, yes you are my lantern/A shy light comes around my ears/The more you speak, the more I see.” Sampha’s ability to switch up his sound is amazing. He can go from breathy to belting in the space of a verse, and he never sounds terribly strained unlike some artist.( Won’t name any names….lol) At the opposite end of the spectrum, you’ll find tracks like “Blood On Me”, which is somewhat propulsive and chaotic questioning of the oneself. With a hypnotic chant sitting under everything else, and the out-of-breath desperation in Sampha’s voice, “Blood On Me” is a visceral track with a nightmarish undercurrent. It marks Sampha out as someone with a real skill for painting very unique pictures. On “Reverse Fault,” he uses the car wreck metaphor as an analogue not for the dissolution of a relationship, but instead for his own complicity with in it.
One of the tracks that caught me off guard was the live show felt track “Under.” “Under” displays Sampha’s storytelling ability and his proficiency at making incredibly catchy danceable beats. As Sampha shouts “I’m gasping for air” on “Under”, with the waves crashing down around him, it’s a moment that catches you off guard. One minute you’re feeling the beat and the next you’re completely still; stunned by his sudden “cry” for help. Robyn, the producer on this track, did a great job on production. “Under” was probably my favorite track hands down. “No One Knows Me Like the Piano…” and “What Shouldn’t I Be?” embody the word “elegiac” to a T, and in doing so achieve the funereal sorrow that other artists spend their entire career drinking and drugging to attain. “No One Knows Me Like the Piano…” is a quiet, contemplative piano ballad, loaded with meaning, metaphor and beauty, it’s a model example of the power music can hold. Basically, this song is a story of Sampha finding himself at the bench of his piano at the young age of three years old. On top of that, this song serves as a love letter to his mom. If you listen carefully, the lines blur between her and the piano, which both have had such a defining influence in his life. After the first listen I probably replayed this song about 4 or 5 times, such a powerful track.
Process was a solid project that was built to take your breath away from start to finish. It displays Sampha’s mastery as a lyricist, singer and as a musician. The album is a powerful one that is emotive and surprisingly, loaded with danceable hooks. Process is an impressive curtain-raiser to what is sure to be an equally impressive solo career for Sampha. It’s already clear that Sampha is a fine and expressive singer, but musically I was hoping for a little more of an electronic experimentation but Process is fine just the way it is. Sampha is seen as one of the most famous not-famous musicians right now but, that’ll all change soon. If you haven’t checked out Process I advise that you do! Thanks for reading!