Sampa The Great is a songwriter, rapper, and singer from Zambia. She was based in Australia for years, but came back to Zambia in 2020, shortly before the pandemic hit. When she couldn’t travel, she decided to make her next album there in Lusaka. The album is called As Above, So Below, and it was produced by Mag44.
In this episode, Sampa the Great and Mag44 break down the closing song "Let Me Be Great," which features vocals from legendary West African singer Angélique Kidjo, winner of 5 Grammys and one of TIME’s Most Influential People. I got to speak to Angélique Kidjo in her studio in Paris, and I spoke to Sampa the Great and Mag44 in Lusaka. Together, the three of them tell the story of how they made "Let Me Be Great."
For more, visit songexploder.net/sampa-the-great.
This is an unofficial transcript meant for reference. Accuracy is not guaranteed.
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This episode contains explicit language set for the good,
it is a songwriter rapper, wrapper and singer from zambia, shoes.
Western australia for years, but came back to zambia in two thousand and twenty shortly before the pandemic hit and then, when she couldn't travel, she decided to make her next album there in la saga, the album is called as above so below and it was produced by mag. Forty four,
in this episode, samper the great and mac forty four breakdown, the closing song. Let me be great, which features vocals from legendary west african singer annually, chiujio winner of
I've, grammy's and one of time, magazines, most influential people I got.
speak to angelique Kidjo in her studio in paris, and I spoke to sample the great and bag. Forty four in lusaka and together the three of them, tell the story of how they made. Let me be great: the young tumbled, the I am sam tembo, also known as some of the greats
hi, I'm magnus mondo, also known as mag. Forty four.
I actually was a huge fan of mag. Forty four love these
but he was part of a label called loaded outhouse, the stuff they were doing when they came out to me was like
Oh, my gosh zambians can do music like this. This is while like to me like set the standard in my head, as is high school.
iD, who wanted to do news it beyond WHAM from and
maggie was given.
My songs by my cousin stephen
My cousin told him that this is an,
This was amazing. You'd want to work with this august and mag certainly go.
yeah the messages and was like I have important celebrity things to do. I don't have time for this little university go who's, trying to rap tell your side for so. Yes, this is the way my line of work is. I get a lot of people who say: oh there's, this artist, who's. Amazing, you just said: oh there's, a cousin of mine who's, an amazing artist was doing them.
Didn't things so then, I'm like in a very difficult for me to sort of listen to every single person, saw
now when I heard how music than ours like while this person is not
up Addis she's someone who's. Trying to
change, minds and change hearts.
Here in zambia leave, but this term code zambia, which ilo, which is basically taken zambia to the rest of the world it some.
That we say, but not a lot of us, do something about it and some are different
we had that energy cause. I'm like this girl,
every performance she has the zambian flag on her
I extend an
you know those are things that are made me feel like man like me,
I wasn't even thinking production.
I suppose I thought that ship already sailed over
I vote. Knowledge is too big to even think about me. So I just now just happy to just
watch on her
the grand jury.
To see how evolve.
and change things, I won
in time the euro
to me via dm. Why reached out, do you and
I was just like in future, I'm gonna work with this person and
when I relocated back during the pandemic.
I couldn't get back to a share and I think at that time it was like. Ok, if I'm in zambia, icon
back to us share. What am I gonna do here, and I just
cited to work on music. We decided to work on music and that music slowly turned into a project sample
Big one like this almost created new gino at this album
and through a sound, scaped mag,
it all sounds. I wanted that job sounds. I wanted the minor
What's that I wanted and how
generally, I wanted the album to sound saw none of us
we're thinking that we're gonna
into the studio. I just make a purely iron bureau purely bob, what purely afro between you that no matter
what's gonna happen, they will be a fusion o. Sounds here
so I went into the studio, got the sacks player author, who is amazing guy, so he play.
that sacks line, and then I started building debate with the two other.
As who are with us so that some young ban, sammy master,
Then SAM was the keyboard player.
You know that,
Saxophone gave me that's like real afro bead, like the old fellow committee, afro, beat and, of course,
You can't have afro bleed without the shake. Now we forget, how do we add elements of what is them and the guitar did that reload? Well, that's kind of like Colleen dollar
It also has a lossy, sound nosey, which is one of the tribes here zambia, so when we built them
I think I sent it to
I sent a dns. You didn't respond, satellites
like. I mean. I think this is probably the greatest beat I've ever made in my life.
when I first heard, let me be great, it was, after all,
weeks of back to back studio time. So I'm already like flying high time that we made the bulk of this album hardness. This music is, though, and I'm leaving- I think I want to put on our did I go. Oh, you know what I think you went for, I think you and for the impure other
Did he tell you, saw
it was for a month
and is usually a disconnect after you know, you leave this to do after working on music for a long time, and then I guess,
and this beat
now. Let me tell you I was going to my mind. I was just like overwhelmed
I was overwhelmed and thought I don't know if I could write to this, because it's really grand the song was very uplifting very bright.
how like? Ok, how does this fit into this story? I'm trying to capture for this album? How does
this music aligned with the music, I'm tryin to express for this album- and I like this
not dark enough about struggle. But again the aim of this project was to show all facets of me so show the influence from Botswana, where I was raised, show the influence from zambia and show me outside of the range of anger or defending culture, which was usually the case for the past projects cause. I was based in Australia
so a lot of the mess
the gene around the past projects was ok, I'm defending my zambian culture or you
producing them to blacken use.
that is usually put on the side and australia. I'm showing you know like effort,
In august, in Austria in the mainstream, in a lot of it became what I called defence music miles.
two weeks I found the themes were always circling around defending my culture and thus
open all but one that is a constant thing. You can't action.
Enjoy the beauty of it.
culture, because you always indefensible you're, always defending in, and I just want,
to do more than that, and when I got
Let me be great. It was like the opposite,
it was so bright, so beautiful, so grand that
I knew that I had to prepare to write for it. So
the times well, wasn't responding to mag. Always me actually thinking. How am I gonna execute?
bringing the message that I want for the album
entirety, but still
catering to the part of me that finds the joy and love of my culture outside of the defence of my culture.
You know, and thus
a beautiful seem that I couldn't explore previously
I one of those others who sort of record gibberish on their phones just to get
The initial reaction to a beat thing, how precisely body
Hence my amendment designed lazy. What they did is a meagre resources. Miseries argues that Pakistan speedily applause,
I don't wanna, go back, listen to that flow and added
to the floor with lovers
I wanted to take on a more spoken storytelling, then fully
wrapped and you know, or the ad lives and all bravado it didn't need that the music was doing that for it all. I have to do.
Give the list not a direction of what the story was about. You know what,
Trouble with this journey of pursuing our passion, but we
victorious on the other side. If we continue at it, he saw
the signs many men led to their own devices till the store we live in that the quite many members
today devices tell the story leaving out the cries. You know you always hear about solemn being victorious, but you never hear the sad part of the story. You never hear the sad part of their journey and then
that it was they shut to be divorced onto should be linking them up. I'm laying nam king
my mom doesn't like this line. The hunter should be lincoln. Emma bulls lion king, I'm, the
on whose directing my journey, I'm not the hunt in this story, I'm the line I shouldn't be scared of the under this is my kingdom. This is my journey and sort of yegg,
guiding the listener. Through a shit,
ed sort of human experience of struggling through something that you want to achieve and we're talking up.
that together you know
well through this part of my story. A lot of people
I can tell you that is they ve gone through with this story, but I'm still here I want to be there.
Of this story, and so we going
that story together listener, and you know writer men
applause not feeling it, but the cause of what does the poor stamp can didn't. I didn't know what my hip was, though she didn't know my flaws. When I was younger, I was on my balls numbers from places that will never be another me nigga, so I figured I could cut my own pet. Sorry, I'm an exhibit on my name. I'm semi, I'm tembo on peeve on summer break then came the course
I just felt, like you finally reach that realisation that you can do it all these obstacles are happening, but let me be great: that's my sister, my cousin prison organ in its picasso,
and an organ is unlikely to be used as a progressive instrument, but it gives the whole beat movement.
the second verse I was speaking
up and coming artists
can never veil, where even when you find you prevail- and you can never listened with the lesson we do
can get into the bitterness of being
a young artists, whom you know is inside
by all these idols, but is this
the pointed also with the lack of guidance, was somerset stay in your lane. If I stayed I'd, be playing with them, little wind singing to plug hook still ignore the fact that the queen they bloom and then you can contact any hill. That's how I feel that's how I feel.
The reason I name myself, some of the great was because of the self doubt, but if I was gonna
take on being an artist I'd want to
the greatest version of myself, so that's where they came from
and calling the song, let me be great, is sort of like,
a play at words like. Let me actually step into my own greatness and create my own path. Remember,
these doubts. I fear you will.
Add your voice in the song and your e. You can time travel when you month any year, you're the greatest yeah totally, because it's what you need to hear yeah, I'm gonna, be great-
You will laugh in the studio would be having like a heck of a time when I listen to the songs and I'm link.
These are really good to me, but do they sound good cause, I'm having so much fighting is actually like good. We ve just laughing throughout so
the beginning of, let me be great what is done by
sam numbers over keyword, plucky ballplayer and one of the main collaborators of the album who is just known to joke, like you for your reply
Life and vote in favour of it
and so I walk into the studio they play the track.
And I said
While the beginning of this she had just sounds so spirit sure sounds you know what language is. This is almost sound south african. What's the beginning of this check and then some loves for a good like five minutes
ok, you have to actually play this backwards and I am glad that pay the angel
so I'm here thinking
I thought this info was so moving like the perfect inch
into this song about uplifting, and yes,
I'm going to say: hey, you, ain't got nothing on an egg.
sadly enough. I already got used to it, so I said, let's that's hope nobody could go back when we were in the studio. We would china thing. Ok, how do we end this song?
because, let me be great, is so brand and so cinematic. It felt like
We needed a summary, so I said
But we do
not a circle that back to the song, and I think some was just I. Why don't we say the chorus again, but we can't
take the same way, we say it because it's varying repetitive,
How do we switch up the melody
Is that what they say twice? Let me, let me be great lag
Let's do do that again.
you know for a minute. Then it was
Just me nor mentors, no family member who understood the musical journey or the music industry swords they sort of,
young disappointment, which is funny enough.
as the person who ended up featuring on this song is now my mentor.
hey. My name is already kid. You I'm a single songwriter from being in west africa. The first time
I heard some by the great was up and be a tiny disk. I mean
this tree around it. The theme was an at home
performance? And you know we thought what better way
you do an at home performance than showing that we at home, weighing on traditional fabric,
and really like pudding
a country on the map. Anyone as again is doing when asked
dad I'm light wool, her boldness
is just like. I am a green goddess.
and I will do it if I want to do.
You remind me myself when I started it have in that
confidence, not knowing where I was going starting my career, but
they fear was always a strength for me because I'm like I was stumble. Our
All right I'll, always grab myself back up and continue and that confidence I find it in summer
I look at my instagram and I get a d em from engineer tito
No, I'm just like first and
it instead them well
Then I'm like a legend is damning. You she broke open the doors of africa pop
africa, fusion and apple feature. She was one of the first and
allowed young africans
it is to see our culture,
an our music as something ought to be ashamed of or demonized a lot of that
times it was. I you have to talk like this english speaking. Music is the best music, and that was just not the case.
For angeles. She was going to sing in her language. She was going to wear her cultural clothes like she was going to make it cool to be african grey and to me as a young girl, seeing that as dark. Also it gave me.
permission to do the same right, so it's a pretty
deal some screaming their squealing, showing my system she's. That opening
like no. I don't have the chance that I don't think I can take. What's on the other side of this dm ends,
I finally sit in the studio opened the dm and she's like that mps, tiny disk performance was beautiful. I would
have to work with you are making an hour.
And I would love to be on it like without any
rare. Thank you so much love you, you an inspiration to me I'll, get it done to date,
I really do joy, my love for music and around
same time was working on. Let me be great and
like I mind
well I to be on my album as well
and she goes. I love the song because at this new age
she already quickly or the stand in that in order to make an impact you'll have to meet
ITALY knowledgeable about yourself,
it also realise the world we live in britain is has
No boundaries has no color. Has no gender.
When you an african artist, innua woman, african artist, people out some, you
I would be more than I went for this,
Thing when I did my first album it was to me
then, for certain be without want us to be put in a museum modernity, snuff for african people, because we will have been fed.
so many negative narrative about african artist. We have to be
the traditional music is that we have to be put on a chaperone museum or entities
advance for us,
and that song was like? No, let me be great, because I am
it yeah nah,
of course, to the course we had already made- and I remember listening, backed it and
You heard her vocals a we took our vocals out, yeah dd. Oh you mean all we need is engineer. Her voice was so pop her voice. She holds. I think you know the.
Sexual way of singing. I did
men voice and I did
backing, and then I did,
I'm gonna addition that I have to do
and then she added a beautiful twist to the outer in her language
in writing de I know
I'm singing in their language call you back because my mom in a moment
those mother there from nigeria, the southern part you buy, tried what I'm saying is limited.
the woman that you look up to
let me be do the leader of my own life. Let me bill,
However, I want to be the pointed out
wanted to bring to the table that we can say, let me
great, you know the language languages too.
Angela to meet
day is my mental. We do talk a lot, we exchange thoughts and
To be honest, it feels like a great manifestation
Maybe this is already the case been,
are you ready to be someone else's mentor
think more saw, as I grew I'm getting myself ready
to be somebody else's mentor, my
Hesitation is just making sure I don't pass
any fears or doubts to my men tee, but
When I came home I was surrounded by zambia's. I was surrounded by zambian musicians. I didn't
after you know
above and beyond, to make sure,
that I was seen so
we will look on music. I knew
with that, I was working with people who understood the language of this music was they were raised on it as well, and when I
convinced myself to write to. Let me be grave when you showed the beats me. The thousandth time is yet it became
less about defence, music and more about joy, music
nah that a a
Here's let me be great by some of the great featuring actually chiujio in its entirety.
signs, mainly amended to get on the plane. Disturbing he'd been that the quite suddenly to be deplored the bubble trying it out, but of course it is the poorest country. In the months when I was young, I was on my balls double what again had to come up with any other timber. Want someone down had your voice in the sky tat. The brain is yet again before we can never be wasted. No wonder why didn't you could never? Somebody does not abandon personal mistrusted, dipping pepper peace deal with them tat. They made them into one single stated in advance with the big you can prevent any he'll come up to the moment had gained. The impression is that this is what I remember down. We had a voice in the entire travelling ladys had told me to see again for a brief
more visit song exploded, dot net you can find links to buy or stream. Let me be great, plus you can
The music video and you can watch say after the great and pr tiny des concert,
before we sign, I just want to mention that this is the last episode of the year. This is the end of the night season and ninth year of song exploiter, and I just want to thank you for listening, and I want to thank
all the amazing musicians who shared their stories on the by catch this year, we're going
a few weeks off and then we'll be back
In late january,
exporter and the shows the music were created by me? I produced this episode with craig easily, with artwork by Carlos Lemme, music clearance by catholic psmith and production assistance for married old song exploded.
The proud member of radio toby from pierre racks and network of independent listener supported artist, don't pay casts. You can learn more about our shows at radio toby dot fm,
You can follow me on instagram at rishi her way and you can follow the show at song explorer. You also get a song exploiter teacher at source,
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and happy new year.
Transcript generated on 2023-06-16.