Sampha has released Process, it’s almost hard to believe that this is his debut album. The London based singer song writer and producer commands a lot of respect within the music industry and has large fanbase already. Working with the likes of Kanye West, Solange, Drake and most prominently SBTRKT, Sampha has shared his unique voice plenty.
Sampha’s last solo effort was 2013’s Dual; a six track LP with vibrant exposed vocals, big drums with piano overlays, Process follows the same vein while expressing the singer’s vocal and lyrical range even further.
Process is an album that will have “your rib cage opened and your heart ballooned” to paraphrase “Timmy’s Prayer” the 8th track on the superbly crafted 10-piece record. Sampha Sissay, has been playing the piano since the age of three, his father brought it into their London home to distract the children from the TV. For Sampha it became far more than distraction however, he has and continues to use the instrument to express his deepest feelings and explore his emotions. The record gives you the sense that Sampha is still finding his way in the world much like a lot of us, which is why Process is instantly relatable. On “(No One Knows Me) Like The Piano”, he dedicates a love poem to the instrument that has helped him on his spiritual journey of self discovery.
“It’s so hot I’ve been melting out here , I’m made out of plastic out here, you touched down in the base of my fears Houston, can-can-can you hear?” Sampha bells out on the opening track “Plastic 100ºC”. You can feel Sampha dealing with mortality throughout Process. His mother Binty Sisay passed away in 2015 and his father Joe passed in 1998. Strangely enough one of the more upbeat tracks “Kora Sings” deals with this most directly, the track teems with tension dealing with the loss of his mother “You’ve been with me since the cradle” Sampha recalls.
Sampha himself has had health scares, doctors discovered a lump in his throat while on tour, one they couldn’t diagnose. Sampha isn’t shy to share his anxieties and insecurities on the subject, it’s as if the music helps him deal with these issues. This is most notable with “Blood on me”. The 2nd single off the album, the singer sings through heavy breaths almost haunted by his own words.
Process is an album that undeniably has hip hop influences amongst soul, jazz, RnB and even trap nods. Sampha is somewhere between Frank Ocean and James Blake while remaining completely original. He’s gifted us an album that will speak to anyone with insecurities, anxiety or dark thoughts plaguing them. With Process Sampha is unnervingly venerable yet incredibly brave with his honest lyrics and high pitched tender voice.
Prepare for an introspective journey that will make you feel a range of emotions to say the least, at times might not be sure what you’re meant to feel. One thing is for sure though; Process will stay with you.
Class rating: 8.2 out of 10