Believe me, I get it. There's a lot of music in the world, music stretching behind us seemingly into infinity that we could never, will never, catch up to, with mountains of new music being added to the pile everyday. You could do all the meth in all of Albuquerque and still not have enough waking hours to listen to all the great new music.
Still though...yesterday I saw that Sampha was back and said to Lucas, "Yo, Sampha's back!!!" Lucas did not share my enthusiasm. He didn't really know Sampha, although he'd been meaning to listen to him for years. Then I hit up Yoh saying, "Hey, Sampha's back!" and guess what? This is a direct quote from Yoh: "I have a bunch of Sampha that I never got around to hearing because life doesn't give you enough hours in the day for all this music."
Sampha is apparently the artist everyone's been meaning to listen to forever but have never actually listened to, likely because the English songwriter/singer/producer was always reticent to step into the spotlight, and then just when he was beginning to enter "I keep seeing his name around, I should listen" territory he disappeared.
This is a problem. Not because Sampha's been slept on or is under-rated or blah blah blah I just fell asleep on my keyboard, but because his music's great and will make your life better and you want your life to be better, right?
A good place to start is "Too Much." If it sounds familiar, that's because Drake Drake-ed Sampha's song for a track by the same name off Nothing Was the Same, and then brought him back for "The Motion." Drake was using Sampha to fill in the emotional R&B gap The Weeknd left by escaping the OVO vacuum, like he used Future to give him Atlanta street cred, like he used Wizkid on Views to give him that international dance flavor. You get the point.
But forget Drake. The real point is that the original version of "Too Much" is an incredibly powerful song, much more powerful than "Too Much" the Aubrey version.
I know, right? How fucking great is that? You can feel it all the way down to your bone marrow, and before I heard "Too Much" I wasn't particularly conscious of having bone marrow. The good news, the reason I'm writing this at all, is that against all odds, pretty much all of Sampha's music is in the "Too Much" ballpark. I tend to think of him as an English Frank Ocean if Frank Ocean released even less music, and I genuinely don't think that descriptions' an exaggeration. If so, not by much. It's not just slow ballads, Sampha can channel that voice into making some seriously danceable, moveable music too.
Told you. Fair warning, you're going to have that song stuck in your head for the rest of the day. You're welcome.
Sampha is also like Frank Ocean in that he seems genuinely uncomfortable with fame and can get obsessive about music creation, a combination of traits that tends to result in years between projects and six months passing without so much as a tweet. Imagine that. Months...without a tweet...is such a thing even possible in 2016?
And then on Monday he returned:
More than just a social media post, that return came complete with some new music in the form of "Timmy's Prayer" and a promise that a new album is on the way, likely by the end of the year, although for artists like Sampha "probably sometime this year" usually translates to something more like, "I have no idea if I'll ever actually release it but I don't want to just come out and say that, so maybe a vague answer like 'probably sometime' will make this interviewer stop asking me questions."
But out of all the mythical new albums floating on the horizon of potential, Sampha's is worth getting excited about. And best of all, you don't need a new album to let his music into your life. There's no "late pass" for great art. It's great art because it doesn't age, it's ready to be discovered and connected to anytime. Whether he ends up dropping one of the year's best R&B albums or goes back into hiding, your ears deserve to be connected to Sampha. Take the time, it's worth it.