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Sampa the Great's Ones to Watch

We ask the emerging artist, born in Zambia and based in Sydney, who she’s paying attention to in music right now.

Catch Sampa The Great at the Melbourne leg of the JD Future Legends & Noisey Present The Next On Tour, Friday Feb 12 at Howler along with Broadway Sounds and Golden Girls. The show is free but you need to RSVP.

Sampa The Great is bringing the soul back to Aussie hip-hop. She approaches music making with an energy and creativity that results in a refreshing new brand of funk—and it’s as great as her name would suggest. Moving from Zambia to Sydney, Sampa has wasted no time in making a name for herself in the local scene. Drawing on her African roots and a love of Tupac, Sampa’s music fuses spoken word, rap, hip-hop, blues, and everything in-between for a near-spiritual listening experience. Sampa’s lyricism takes centre stage in her first release The Great Mixtape, as the tracks play on ideas of identity, origin, and purpose.


Recently taking the stage at Melbourne’s Sugar Mountain Festival and with Golden Plains in sight, Sampa’s already gained a reputation for live performances not to be missed. Ahead of her headlining set at the JD Future Legends and Noisey NEXT ON TOUR show in Melbourne, we caught up with the rapper-songstress to find out who she’s listening to in the Sydney scene and beyond.

Noisey: Who are your favourite emerging artists in Sydney at the moment?
Sampa The Great: I seem biased but artists who I’ve collaborated with, like Wallace, who sings backup for me. This is the blessed train baby, don’t blame me! She is an awesome artist. Her voice will not only leave you mean mugging with passion but wishing you could inherit such raspy bluesy pipes.

My friend and underground rapper Trent Leslie Gordon—aka Ontrei—is also one to watch out for. He freestyles like a beast! I take freestyle lessons from him that are epic. He’s crazy. Just listen to him, that’s all I have to say.

Finally, I love New Venusians, a band straight out of Sydney. I happen to know the lead singers Christian Hemara and Meklit Kilbret who sing back-up for my shows. They are amazing artists and amazing people. Both their voices and their artistry leave me doing that face when music is disgustingly delicious. Can’t help but mean-mug!

Is there anyone you’ve loved listening to lately?
I’ve been listening to a group called Oshun from Philadelphia; they’re a female hip-hop group. So dope and fresh, they’ve already released an EP so watch out for them!


What are your thoughts on the rap and hip-hop scene in Australia at the moment?
I’m quite new to the above-ground scene so I’m still discovering how Australian hip-hop is doing. What I’m seeing so far is a growth of diversity, message, and artists themselves—and a broader perspective in terms of where the music is reaching. It’s not just a message to Australians now, it’s a message to the world from Australia.

Where do you see the scene heading in the future?
I think it’ll be more recognised internationally. It’s growing—there are more and more upcoming artists every day bringing in their own unique styles that are gaining attention outside Australia.

Both in interviews and lyrically you’ve spoken about being a female in rap, as well as your African musical influences. Do you see Australia’s scene opening up and becoming more inclusive?
Yes I do. I think this is the baby book. These different artists are being birthed bringing all these different aspects of themselves to the table and I think people are taking note and saying, “Wow, there’s that style too, I’m about that, too.” I think that it’s only going to open up more and more, especially since Australian hip-hop is still evolving.

This article is presented in partnership with JD Future Legends

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