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Live Review: Sampa The Great takes down Australian music industry with new single 'Time's Up (ft. KROWN)'

22 July 2020 | 9:00 am | Emma Jones

Sampa The Great taps fellow Melbourne rapper Krown to take direct aim at the Australian music industry with timely new single, 'Time's Up'.

Following on from her brilliant, critically acclaimed 2019 record, The ReturnSAMPA THE GREAT is back with a brand new single and video. Titled 'Time's Up', she has linked up with fellow Melbourne rapper KROWN to take aim right at the Australian music industry, putting everyone on notice that the time for performative allyship, systemic racism and being generally shit to many, many people across the board is over.

With a calm but commanding "Tick tock, tick tock," Sampa The Great heralds in this next era with a confident air. As the song builds, she and KROWN trade bars as they clock all the times the Australian music industry has failed them and their peers as artists. One moment in particular that stands out is when Sampa calls out the ARIAs while being handed her award for 2019's Best Hip Hop Release. She, along with Kaiit (who won Best Soul/RnB), were the first women of colour to ever take out these awards, and yet neither was included in the main broadcast. They were instead awarded during commercial breaks. The Return was undeniably one of the year's most lauded records (also taking out the J Awards for Video of the Year and Double J’s Artist of the Year, Best Hip Hop Act at the Music Victoria Music Awards, and Bandcamp's #1 album of the year), but clearly wasn't enough to be included in the main broadcast on the night and its exactly this (and many other incidents just like it) that Sampa and KROWN are putting on notice.

Sampa The Great said of the single, "Times up” is a track that was made to reflect a conversation between 2 young black artists about the Australian music industry. With the current atmosphere it’s an important time to address systemic racism within the music industry, especially as it slowly rebuilds. Allyship should never be performative and as we continue past blackout day, all music orgs/labels should be put to task in bringing forward their initiatives for real change within their industry."

For the visuals, Sampa tapped Sanjay De Silva (director of The Return, 'Final Form and 'OMG'). On the clip, he said, "We're playing with the tongue in cheek aspect to the song and dialling it way up by incorporating metaphors like the padded room to represent the way the industry sees black artists, to the imagery of the industry literally shaking Sampa's culture out of her for their profit. We referenced some very specific 90's music videos throughout, from Tupac's 'hit Em Up', to videos from Busta, Da Bush Babees, Jamiroquai, and De La Soul - Each one is utilized to convey a powerful message about how the music industry has treated and continues to treat and exploit black artists."

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Alongside this single's release, Sampa The Great has also announced a partnership with Naarm (Melbourne) based culturally responsive therapy practice Pola Psychology. In a statement, the partnership was described as being set up to "work to shed a light on the struggles experienced by African youth in accessing the culturally safe, appropriate and responsive mental health care that they need, and raise funds to reduce these barriers faced." Sampa said, ""The labour put on marginalised people to have to address systemic racism every day means more trauma and pressure on our mental health and emotional state. I’m partnering with Pola Psychology a Naarm (Melbourne) based therapy practice to make sure African youth/musicians can access culturally appropriate mental health care in their own community, by their own community. At a time like this, it’s important to let my friends and the wider African community know that this support exists and our health matters."

From iconic moments through to absolutely incredible looks, Sampa The Great and KROWN mix it up in many different settings and references, but the real show-stealing scene comes at the very end with the pair flanked by their peers including the likes of REMI. and Ecca Vandal. It's this scene, with them all staring right down the camera, that brings the message home: Time. Is. Up.

'Time's Up' is out now.  Buy/stream here.


Words by Emma Jones

Image by Abdul Yusuf