The Emotion of Sampha

Aaron Smet
2 min readDec 25, 2021
Source Billboard

Very few artists have a better tone and delivery than UK singer Sampha. No matter the genre, emotional performances will always resonate with people. Sampha is a master of emotion. You can hear the emotion not only through his lyrics but by his tone and the cadence at which he plays the keys on the piano. When I listen to Sampha, I can hear him releasing all the pent-up emotion in his mind. It’s a thing of beauty. His songs and performances tug on my heartstrings and remind me of why I fell in love with music in the first place.

In an NPR Music interview, Alicia Keys was asked what makes a classic song. She responded by saying there are ingredients that make a song more digestible. For her, that ingredient is mostly a piano and a voice.

The song “Too Much” is one of my favorite songs of all time. According to iTunes, I’ve played that song 816 times. I cry every time I watch this video because I know the pain of replaying situations over and over again in my head, and going through all the possibilities of why something happened. Nothing sucks more than realizing your only solution is the passage of time and simple distractions. You can’t reverse the past. It’s best not to think about it too much.

With only two mixtapes and one album, Sampha has already collaborated with the likes of Kanye West and Drake. His music is deeply influenced by the unfortunate events that have riddled his family. Sampha lost his dad to lung cancer, his mother to stomach cancer and his brother had a stroke. Accepting death and coping with situations that are out of his control are central themes to his music.

His lyrics are profound yet concise. The song 4422 is a perfect example of this. Sampha can have one verse and still exude an overwhelming amount of emotion into the chorus. I’ve never heard anything quite like it. It’s just him, a piano and these heart-wrenching songs. No wonder Kanye and Drake keep coming back for more.