AOTY 2023

The Return

Sampa the Great - The Return
Critic Score
Based on 12 reviews
2019 Ratings: #115 / 802
User Score
Based on 126 ratings
2019 Ratings: #253
Liked by 9 people
September 13, 2019 / Release Date
LP / Format
Ninja Tune / Label
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There aren’t many people who can get away with a 19 song record, but it’s easy to forgive ‘The Return’ its cinematic length – this is true storytelling.

Sampa the Great's The Return is both a willfully enigmatic and deeply revealing album. It serves as a dazzling celebration of her cultural and musical heritage that will resonate for years to come.


Dazzling, sprawling debut from genre-defying Afro-futurist.

The Sydney Morning Herald

This feels like a welcome southern-hemisphere addition to the pantheon of ambitious, socially conscious hip-hop records, like Kendrick Lamar's To Pimp a Butterfly or Solange's A Seat at the Table.

Her skills on the microphone have significantly improved, and she raps much harder than on her earlier material.
With 'The Return', Sampa The Great expertly dismantles the notion of genre, proving that, when it comes to art, what really matters is content, not labels.

If her thousand-yard-stare determination on The Return is any indication, her journey is only beginning.


This is a talent to watch, The Return laying down an impressive statement of intent, a marker of Sampa The Great’s potential.

Northern Transmissions
It’s a defiant debut and one that people will be coming back to for years to come.
The Guardian
She’s charismatic and her challenges to western orthodoxy are welcome, but Sampa needs to find a fresher sonic palette.

This was pretty good at first. But then it kept going. And kept going. And kept going. It wouldn't stop going. The last 3 tracks are pretty much torture even though technically they aren't that bad. I saved myself from it and just hopped on minecraft. Sampa is a very capable rapper but why would you do this to me? :(

Mwana (feat. Mwanje Tembo, Theresa Mutale Tembo & Sunburnt Soul Choir): 68/100 (Decent)
Kinda long and i'm not really liking the instrumentation but it has a great rap verse ... read more


Really good project, super creative Neo-Soul instrumentals, great lyrics, I love Sampa's voice. It's a bit of a heavy album but this was a nice experience, lots of great deep cuts.

Time's Up goes hard as a mf.


Zambia-born, Botswana-raised, Autralia-based artist Sampa the Great’s debut album. The sound world she creates on this album is amazing and she really is one of the most underrated artists out there right now. This album varies from gospel influences in tracks like 'Made Us Better' to classic Hip Hop on tracks like the lead single for this album 'Final Form' and everything in between. Some more excellent tracks on this album: 'Heaven', 'Leading Us Home' and 'Freedom
Favourite track: ... read more


Heavy, restorative, and mind-numbingly long, Sampa the Great’s album The Return is a dope experience. Let’s talk about the long part- this album is a chore to get through, and I honestly didn’t want to finish it. However, love her voice and everything she displays on here, from the instrumentals to her creative lyrics. Props to Sampa


It penetrates very quickly from the first sound and with that delightful sound it makes you realize a sense of why the music is so good.
Synchronizing to the rhythm, choirs, level and well-structured lyrics, the rhythms being a very fundamental part of the project, this is incredible.


This album is a masterpiece, only held back by being somewhat overstuffed with some light but unnecessary embellishment. After she makes it through her SAULT-adjacent experimentation between Time's Up and OMG, the MC leans into verses chock full of edifying and spiritually satiating nuggets and visualizations. The neo-soul aspects of this album are the strongest, and complement her incredible verbal presence with an experience that transcends the art form. Even if I include the ~6-track stretch ... read more

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Added on: July 14, 2019