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HYFINated Conversations

Sampha opens up about fatherhood and musical journey in ‘Lahai’: A Candid Interview

todayNovember 3, 2023

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Photography by Jesse Crankson

In a recent candid conversation, critically acclaimed musician Sampha divulged into the intricate tapestry of experiences, reflections, and influences that culminated in his latest auditory oeuvre, “Lahai.” Known for his evocative vocal texture and innovative sonic arrangements, Sampha’s discography has always been a profound exploration of his inner world and external influences. However, with “Lahai,” the stakes feel personal yet expansively universal, tracing roots, examining new roles, and embracing an enriched musical lexicon.

The album’s title, “Lahai,” is a tribute to Sampha’s paternal grandfather, also his middle name. Though Sampha never met his grandfather, the familial and cultural lineage he inherited became a cornerstone for this album. Through “Lahai,” Sampha embarks on a journey to connect with his grandfather’s legacy, learning about his role as a community pillar who significantly contributed to building a mosque in Sierra Leone. This newfound knowledge intertwined with Sampha’s recent venture into fatherhood, painting a poignant picture of lineage, legacy, and the cyclical nature of life.

Sampha’s previous work, “Process,” delved into the themes of loss. In contrast, “Lahai” emerges from a place of joy and discovery, largely fueled by his experiences of fatherhood. The newfound responsibility and love have not only morphed his personal life but also significantly influenced the thematic and musical trajectory of “Lahai.” The album reflects a contemplation of time, spiritual journeys, and the cosmic aura surrounding parenthood. His narrative, while deeply personal, resonates with listeners on a universal spectrum, embodying a shared human experience of growth, love, and the eternal quest for self-discovery.

Musically, “Lahai” is a testament to Sampha’s evolving artistry, effortlessly blending genres and creating a rich, immersive sound palette. The album showcases a seamless fusion of solo music with synthesizers, drum machines, and percussions, representing a hybridity that reflects Sampha’s diverse musical influences growing up. From jungle and house music to psychedelic orchestral soul, the influences are varied yet harmoniously intertwined, creating a sound that is unmistakably Sampha yet refreshingly new.

One of the highlights of “Lahai” is the collaborative essence it embodies. Artists like Yeji have lent their talents to the album, enriching its sound and narrative. The collaborations were organic, springing from mutual respect and a shared vision for the music. These collaborations not only highlight the communal spirit within the music scene but also significantly contribute to the album’s rich, diverse sonic landscape.

Taking “Lahai” from the studio to the stage, Sampha shares the anxious yet exhilarating experience of presenting this deeply personal project to the world. With the support of his band and musical director, the live renditions of “Lahai” offer a new dimension to the album, allowing the music and its narrative to interact with audiences in a real, tangible manner.

In summary, “Lahai” is more than just an album; it’s a profound exploration of Sampha’s heritage, new beginnings, and his ever-evolving musical journey. Through this work, Sampha invites us to reflect, celebrate, and dream, affirming his position as a thoughtful, innovative artist in today’s musical landscape.


Written by: Tarik Moody

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