The Return isn’t just a meditation on diaspora, discontentment, and homesickness, but a celebration of her family. The opening track, Mwana, features Sampa’s mother and her sister Mwanje. “I mean, we sing [together] all the time anyway,” Sampa cackles. “We’ve been performing for our parents in our living room since we were young so it was really beautiful.” Her sister isn’t just a guest feature but the impetus and inspiration behind Sampa’s ambassadorial role for young Africans in Australia, which at first terrified her.
“I didn’t know the history of anything of the country itself, or the hip-hop scene, and I felt like this ambassadorial role was being thrust upon me,” she says. The first interlude of the album, Wake Up, a recorded voicemail from a friend pinpoints this moment. “Your phone’s still off,” the voicemail begins.
“Listen, I get what you’re dealing with a hundred percent
And it’s really hard and it’s rough
But we’re black
And you’re black in the music industry, no less
This is just how it is
You just have to be able to deal.”