The Kanye collaborator steps out of the shadows on his debut record
Patience is virtuous - or so society has lead us to believe. The good that comes to those who wait is often highlighted, and how our longing and satisfaction is encouraged through restraint. But it's rarely acknowledged what happens when we wait too long.
Sampha Sisay - stage name Sampha - has bided his time in establishing his process as a one-man. Already a household name when it comes to his collaborations (Kanye, Beyonce, Drake, it goes on), 'Process' is an introduction to the man behind the guest verse.
And it's time that he struggles with most on his debut - a retrospective neo-soul nod to his missed opportunities. What Shouldn't I Be? is heavy with the burden of the unfulfilled commitments to his family.
"I should visit my brother / But I haven't been there in months / I've lost connection, signal / To how we were" signals a sentiment of lingering guilt surrounding his family situation - a common theme on 'Process'. There's a weight to everything, but it's not suffocating.
Well, not always - the only time the weight feels less than bearable is Plastic 100 degrees. Sampha's internal turmoil swells and throbs to the surface as doubt ebbs in to his mind.
If this is all sounding a bit down-trodden, fear not - Process is more than a lurch through 'the feels', and it's what makes the LP so pleasantly surprising.
Under is a stinging R&B rollick - a bewitching, if not entirely original tale of an empowering and inescapable love affair. Synths are used sparingly on the record, but when they are used it's effective. It's the rolling bassline that makes it though.
Blood On Me is a breathless assault of bellowing vocals and a metronome that never loses its menace. Sampha explained to Genius that he wanted the soundscape of this song to resemble that of a nightmare hence the disconnected lyrics.
"I really did try and think about my vocal tone", he said. "I would run and try to really get into the mood of the song. I was really out of breath, trying to make myself feel angry.
"I tried to put that passion into recording the hook. Sometimes it’s kind of cathartic, because I genuinely put a lot of passion behind it."
This unbridled passion is felt again, albeit in an entirely different way, on the stand-out track of the record No One Knows Me (Like The Piano). Rooted in the strong imagery of the forlorn imagery of a lonely piano and his despondent vocals stripped bare of extravagance, and still harbouring the guilt from leaving his family behind.
However, he remains hopeful of a future reunion: "You know I left, I flew the nest / And you know I won't be long / And in my chest you know me best / And you know I'll be back home".
Despite the monumental pressure that comes from transitioning from hype-man to main act, Sampha remains cool, calm and collected. The Londoner could have easily rush-released an LP off the back of his initial warm reception as a guest vocalist - but he didn't.
In waiting to release this record, Sampha honed his already impressive song-writing skills to create a narrative that entirely represents who he is and his journey to get there.
It's equal parts vulnerable and strong; structured yet viscous - Sampha's 'Process' proves itself as a masterclass in patience, trust and self-belief, minus the limits of a burgeoning ego.
Sampha's 'Process' is out now via Young Turks.