Sampa The Great (Sampa Tembo) is a poet/singer/rapper who burst onto the musical scene in Australia in 2015. She was born in Zambia, raised in Botswana when her family decided to move there when she was young. Music was immersed within her family life and at the age of 22, Sampa left home and moved to Australia (via America) to further her musical studies. Sampa views music as the language of the soul, transcending borders with the potential to act as an agent for positive change. Her upbringing, separating from her peers in Botswana, moving away from her family & living in a foreign country like Australia all inform her lyrics.
From a young age Sampa was influenced by how greatly music inspired people around her, changing their lives, circumstances and perspectives. The former athletic sprinter and now SAE audio engineering graduate was also involved with slam poetry and music before arriving in Australia via San Francisco and Los Angeles were she also previously studied.
Sampa The Great’s 2015 debut release The Great Mixtape was produced by Sydney’s Dave Godriguez and was originally out as a free download before demand dictated a physical release was also warranted via Melbourne’s Wondercore Island Records. Following the success of this debut project she followed it up with HERoes Act 2 EP, a brief 3-track EP collaboration with West London’s Grammy-winning RnB artist Estelle (of Kanye West’s ‘American Boy’) and Los Angeles-based producer Rahki (Kendrick Lamar, Mac Miller, Travis Scott).
This November saw Sampa release the 12-track mixtape Birds And The Bee9 featuring Remi and Sensible J from House of Beige, S I L E N T J A Y, Kwes Darko (Blue Daisy) amongst others on the UK’s Big Dada Recordings (Wiley, Roots Manuva, Run The Jewels, Busdriver). She has further collaborated with Urthboy (of The Herd / Elefant Traks), Jonti of Stones Throw Records and lists key musical influences as Lauryn Hill, Damian Marley, Stephen Marley, Erykah Badu, Kendrick Lamar, Nas, Tupac and Mos Def which have all helped develop her own unique sound and style that has resulted in Sampa reaching millions of streams already.
She has toured nationally throughout Australia and played the festival circuit extensively, polishing her captivating live show with DJ Ziggy. This year also saw her touring Europe supporting Joey Badass and returning to Europe to play her own headline tours again. Live highlights thus far include supporting the likes of Kendrick Lamar, Thundercat, Hiatus Kaiyote, The Avalanches, Little Simz, DJ Shadow, Remi + Sensible J, Guilty Simpson and Briggs.
Sampa The Great joins the likes of the Tkay Maidza and the polarising Iggy Azalea on putting female rappers from Australia on the international map, building off the pioneering hard work of many of those who came before them and broke down many barriers including Spice aka Sharline, MC Que (of Illlevel w/ Liones), MC Trey, Maya Jupiter (Foreign Heights w/ DJ Nick Toth), A-Love, MC Layla of Syllabolix amongst many others. Sampa The Great is due to release her highly anticipated debut album next year and will undoubtedly be touring extensively again soon. Keep an eye and ear out for one of the most unique acts to develop out of Australia yet.