"Blue Boss" by SAMPA THE GREAT

Staying true to your roots
Jazz is the musical equivalent of the Latin language. Although it is less popular today, it was at the root of the creation of many styles of music that are popular today, including rock, reggae, R&B, and hip hop. Hip hop is perhaps the genre most directly affected by jazz, as many early hip hop hits in the 80’s and 90’s were simply lyrics rapped over jazz instrumentals. Australia’s new queen of hip hop (sorry Iggy), Sampa the Great, has brought us back to the glory days of hip hop, the days of A Tribe Called Quest, the Geto Boys, DJ Jazzy Jeff, the Fugees, Stetsasonic. I could go on, but you get the point. From her latest album The Great Mixtape, Sampa brings us “Blue Boss,” a lyrical firestorm layered over zesty Latin jazz instrumentals. Sampa the Great’s vocal delivery is like a cascading waterfall of cocoa butter, a deeper, more refined and controlled version of M.I.A.’s well-known delivery.
Even more impressive than her delivery, the Zambia-born artist’s lyrics artfully broach the subject of connection, or a lack thereof, with family and society, and how those two concepts relate to one’s own sense of identity. The jazz instrumentals, including complicated, hand-cramp-inducing Latin guitar patterns and sultry interjections of saxophone, create a smooth feel to the song, while the starkly contrasting, hard-hitting percussion reminds us that, after all, this still is a hip hop track. Sampa the Great brings a calm insightfulness and intelligence to the rap game, shown both in her lyrical content and choice of instrumentals.