Birth Name: Sampa Tembo
Born: 1994 (24-25)
Origin: Zambia Africa
Genres: Hip Hop,Pop
Occupation(s): Poet, SInger-SongWriter, Rapper
Years Active: 2014-Present
Sampa Tembo was born in Zambia and raised in Botswana. She was based in Sydney from 2014 to 2018, originally coming to Australia to pursue a degree in audio production at the SAE Institute. As of 2018, she is based in Melbourne. Before going to Australia, she had previously studied in San Francisco for two years and Los Angeles for a year.
2015–2016: Early years
Her debut mixtape, The Great Mixtape, was released as a free download in 2015, and was eventually released on CD and vinyl by Melbourne label Wondercore Island. Tembo described the mixtape as “a search for creativity, laughter, purpose and rhythms”, and credits her African youth for inspiring the “political consciousness” on the record. The mixtape was produced by Sydney producer Dave Rodriguez, who performs under the name Godriguez. Tembo and Rodriguez met at a jazz and hip-hop freestyle in Sydney. Tembo’s vocals for the mixtape were recorded in just two takes.
2017: HERoes Act 2 and Birds and the BEE9
Tembo released an EP in 2017, HERoes Act 2. In an interview, she called it “a snapshot of a time of uncertainty and doubt, and the realisation that those aspects are very normal”. On the EP, Tembo collaborated with British artist Estelle and producer Rahki.
In 2017, Tembo released the mixtape Birds and the BEE9, a record that “crosses hip-hop, soul, jazz, gospel and reggae”, on the Big Dada label. It was produced by Sensible J, Silentjay and Kwesi Darko. The record won the Australian Music Prize in March 2018. Birds and the BEE9 received positive reviews. The Guardian noted influences from Lauryn Hill.
2018–present: Debut studio album
Sampa released her single “Energy” featuring Nadeem Din-Gabisi in November 2018. Tembo was due to release her debut studio album later in 2018. However, as of January 2019 nothing has been released. On June 5 2019, she released another single “Final Form”.
Outside of her music career, Tembo is interested in sprinting.
Sampa the Great is Australia’s most prolific black female hip-hop artist export, where she often speaks about the visibility of black and indigenous artists in Australia.
Tembo has been influenced by Mos Def and Chance the Rapper. She has performed as a supporting act for Joey Bada$$, as well as Kendrick Lamar, Thundercat, and Denzel Curry. Tembo described Joey as a “passionate artist and an amazing performer”.