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Sampa the Great - Let Me Be Great (feat. Angélique Kidjo)

2022-12-21 | 🔗

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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the article dot com, slash song, exploded and the disks will automatically be applied at check out: that's article dot com, slash. Song explode her for fifty dollars off your first purchase of a hundred dollars or more. 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 just been 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, sammy globally, utilised 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. and 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 and you ok, you have to actually play this backwards and I am glad that pay the angel it's ok do 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. and
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 yeah yeah. 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.
The. 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 traditional 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, at me, MM, at that she, 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 no at me. at me. and then she added a beautiful twist to the outer in her language in writing de I know that Jr J. 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. the 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 I, 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, exploded, not slash shirt unrest, case. Your way, thanks for listening and happy new year. Radio, do.
Transcript generated on 2023-06-16.