Sampa The Great’s "Birds And The BEE9” - released in 2017 to critical acclaim - is a record that is both deeply personal and outward-looking. It’s points of reference are poised between her closely-held roots and an internationally-minded musical outlook, carrying her identity through the many-sided musical influences which she draws from. An album in which “categories dissolve around her" (The Observer) - spanning spiritually-minded gospel and chants to neo-soul and hip-hop, it’s intertwined with a clearly-defined, no-holds-barred political outlook, and speaks a message of healing after her own experiences of hurt and pain.
The release of “Birds and the BEE9” marked another high point in the career of Sampa Tembo, and was recently recognised by the prestigious Australian Music Prize, who named it the Best Album Of 2017. Prevailing over 400 eligible albums, voted on by a panel of music industry figures, journalists and other artists, the judges praised “BEE9” for having "an openness to the future... using hip hop and soul to connect and hit the ground gunning”
The album received strong press press support from The Observer, Clash, Bandcamp, XLR8R, Huck, The 405, TIDAL, Mixmag, NPR, Okay Africa, Nation Of Billions, Northern Transmissions, Hype Machine and many more. Sampa has previously been recognised by publications such as Rolling Stone AUS, The Guardian, Complex, Noisey, Vibe, Uproxx, CMU, Huffington Post, Hot New Hip Hop, Time Out, Pilerats and Gal Dem.
Born in Zambia, raised in Botswana, her upbringing continues to bear an influence on her music. Spending time in America before settling in Australia five years ago, the connections she made there have propelled her to where she now stands. First appearing by way of 2015’s breakout “The Great Mixtape” - described by OkayPlayer as “an adventurous young mind pushing out against all boundaries” - with over 6 million streams on Spotify to date. It was followed by singles “Blue Boss” (which hit #1 on Hype Machine, reached 1 million streams on Spotify within 2 months and has 8.5+ million streams to date), and “HERoes Act 2" EP, a 3 track EP collaboration with Estelle, in association with Red Bull Sound (over 1.5 million streams to date), and “BEE9” which has reached 3.7 million streams since release. Spotify playlist additions include frontline playlists like New Music Friday, All Aussie Hip Hop, Beasts n’ Bars, Electronic Glow, This Week Sounds Like..., Newest Pop Mix, Indie Mixtape, Mellow Beats and Sampa has over 319k monthly listeners on the platform.
Sampa has also received strong radio support from the likes of Annie Mac, Huw Stephens and Phil Taggart (BBC Radio 1); Gilles Peterson, Huey Morgan and Don Letts (BBC 6 Music); Jamz Supernova and Mistajam (BBC 1Xtra); Julie Adenuga (Beats 1); Good Nights (Triple J); and picked up spot plays from Bradley Zero (Rhythm Section) and Skinny Macho (Boiler Room) on NTS, KCRW and more.
Live highlights include supporting the likes of Kendrick Lamar, Thundercat, Joey Bada$$, Hiatus Kaiyote, Ibeyi and Little Simz. Sampa has also played venues such as KOKO in London, the Sydney Opera House as well as festival slots at Laneway Festival, The Great Escape, Golden Plains, Sugar Mountain, Womad and Vivid Live.
Sampa toured "The BEE9 Experience” live throughout 2018.