"There's nothing new under the sun / It's never what you do, but how it's done," Nas rapped on "No Idea's Original."
Such is the case with the South London singer, songwriter and producer Sampha. His originality lies in delivery and tone, which is why he's been summoned by some of hip-hop and R&B's biggest names years before the release of his first album. (Kanye's "Saint Pablo" and Drake's "Too Much," for example, could have lacked emotional value without Sampha's contributions.) Sampha's music is more feel everything than feel good, which is why his fans hold him so close to their hearts.
The vulnerability on his debut, Process, isn't hard to dissect, but can be downright agonizing to digest; his immediate family has been riddled with disease and ailments, with both his parents succumbing to cancer. Process finds Sampha interpreting this complicated emotional prism — and confronting his own mortality through it.
Sampha stopped by the NPR offices to perform 3 tracks from Process. The result is a Tiny Desk Concert as intimate as it gets (and that's saying something). It's just him, a piano and these heart-wrenching songs that we reckon double as coping mechanisms.
Process is available now. (iTunes) (Amazon)
- "Plastic 100°C"
- "(No One Knows Me) Like the Piano"
- "Blood On Me"
Sampha (vocals, keys)
Producers: Bob Boilen, Bobby Carter, Niki Walker; Audio Engineer: Josh Rogosin; Videographers: Niki Walker, Morgan Noelle Smith; Editor: Morgan Noelle Smith; Production Assistant: A Noah Harrison; Photo: Claire Harbage/NPR.
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