Sampha - Process
The great R&B records of today are much different from the great ones of the past. R&B used to be almost exclusively love songs, and only operated in a very narrow set of rules. With albums like Seat at the Table, Formation, Blond and others R&B artists have showed that branching out and trying something new is what is rewarded the most in 2017. Process is just that, a process going from one thing into another. On this record Sampha is totally vulnerable and raw bearing his soul for all to see. There is also a lot of depth in terms of sadness on this record. Sampha's father passed away in 1998 and His mother in 2015, Grappling with that loss lead to this album, one that quietly tries to make sense of the world. Process is not big, but instead focuses it's music inward, going down to that quiet place where you can get to the bottom of your thoughts devoid of prejudices of the world. The instrumentation is sparse for the most part, but used very directly. Each note has a specific purpose each sound seems pained over to get just in the right place at just the right moment. And Process sounds fantastic filling your ears with a warm electro-soul sound that is classic and at the same time aggressively of the moment.
There is an anxiety to the record that is undeniable. On "Reverse Faults" you can sense the tension right away and it just sticks with you. It is not the tension that makes you unable to move though, instead it is that feeling that we all experience and all try to grapple with. The easiest comparison from the jump for Sampha is James Blake, but with a much more hip hop bend. "Timmy's Prayer" about incarceration, both physical and mental soars in how almost hopeless it feels. Sampha knows how to convey sadness but He never let's it totally define him, instead He uses it as a tool evoking those deep emotions. At times you will hear rainfall and thunder during the record, and it is the perfect setting for this music, struggling with sadness when the rain is falling down is one of the oldest and most true things we have out there. If there is anything sometimes there is not enough brightness on the record, but it is so good at being down that if doesn't really matter. Sampha may be a name you haven't heard from yet, but get ready because He is about to set the world on fire.
8.7 out of 10