Sampa The Great on her relationship to Australia: “I could talk shit because I could leave”

"The hope was just to inspire people and break some walls," said the latest NME Australia cover star

Sampa The Great has opened up about her relationship with Australia for NME Australia‘s latest cover, saying, “I could talk shit because I could leave”.

Speaking to NME‘s Sosefina Fuamoli, the Zambian singer shared her experiences as a Black artist in Australia, saying, “the hope was just to inspire people and break some walls”.

“There is such a pressure to be a person of colour in Australia who has a platform, or who is in the public view,” she said of the pressures and frustrations she felt in the country.

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“You often feel like you have to have this armour or persona. I don’t like using that word, because I don’t feel like I was two different people. I do think I put huge pressure on myself to be perfect in order to be an ambassador.”

These frustrations came up even as she was celebrating her successes, such as her historic 2019 ARIA Awards win for Best Hip Hop Release with ‘The Return’, when her speech calling for more recognition of the diversity of Black art in Australia was cut from the broadcast.

She told NME she hopes these experiences have paved a new way for young Black artists and allowed them to “take it a step further and feel that weight lifted”. “It’s why Sensible J did it before me, why REMI did it before me; everyone did it before so we could feel that freedom,” she said.

Sampa returned to her home of Zambia at the start of the COVID-19 pandemic to reconnect with herself, but said there was “privilege in being able to leave” Australia after her experiences there.

“I recognise that and I recognise that earlier on, in what I call the Black renaissance of hip hop in Australia… I could talk shit because I knew I could leave,” she said.

“But if [others] talk shit, there’s repercussions to careers, to money, to a lot of stuff that I have the privilege of not caring about. So if that was the case, then let’s talk shit on my platform! I can get in trouble, but at least it creates some sort of mark. Let’s do something so that when we leave here, at least I would have done something to change something in Australia.”

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Sampa recently brought her show An Afro Future to Australia for the first time, performing at Vivid Sydney and Melbourne’s RISING festival.

Writing about the show in a five-star review, NME‘s Karen Gwee said: “With An Afro Future, Sampa the Great had created her own table … it was Sampa’s world – a joyous, liberated paradigm – and we were all living in it.”

She is set to release her new album ‘As Above, So Below’ on September 9, having shared singles ‘Never Forget’ and Denzel Curry collaboration ‘Lane’.

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