Sampa The Great, Remi, and Baro are perhaps the three best, most promising young rappers in the Australian hip hop community.

They also happen to be some of the most internationally accessible, technically proficient artists in the genre, whilst breaking the mould of Aussie hip hop and throwing it asunder in favour of something fresh and exciting. Last weekend at The Corner Hotel , the trio came together for an amazing night in celebration of Sampa The Great receiving the inaugural Corner Award.

After a DJ set from Baro, Remi took to the stage. His latest record Divas & Demons is a stunning triumph which solidifies him as one of the best on the scene. His tracks are often introspective and hauntingly poetic with somewhat dark and pessimistic undertones, but his passionate energy and the infectious pop melodies suit them perfectly to a live atmosphere. Accompanied by Sensible Jay on drums, Remi‘s set was constantly upbeat, and he had a fair share of the audience enthralled throughout. The highlight and most crowd grabbing moment of the set occurred when he brought out the star of the evening, Sampa The Great  on stage to perform ‘For Good’. In the past, I’ve seen Remi performing in smaller, more intimate venues, but his commanding of the stage at a venue the size of Corner proved his ability to play to larger crowds and ensnare them.

When Sampa The Great took to the stage, the energy throughout the room was electric. With a seven-piece band in tow she immediately captured the audience with her sheer charisma and clear passion for her craft. Absolutely empowering, utterly inspirational, and quaint in stature with a cape draped around her neck, Sampa brings the her to hero. She draws such enthusiasm from her fans, creating ripples of excitement throughout the room as she played a set resting heavily on the new record HERoes.

Her backing vocalists allow for a soul like atmosphere to dominate the live cuts with the live band creating such a tactile, raw energy to the performance. Unlike any other Australian rapper, Sampa The Great owns her diction, her accent, her pronunciation, her rhythm. Syncopated flow dominates her performance style, technical rhythms bleeding into the traditional to form a tapestry of rhyme-scape that is as challenging as it is relatable. Hair clip poking from her hair and bathed in pink light, she connects with each audience member with a point of her finger and a flick of her head. Her animation and delight in partaking in her work are very apparent as she truly seems overjoyed to grace the stage. The soulful and jazzy instrumentation sets a tone for the performance of a sultry late night thrill, sounding something like Hiatus Kaiyote meets Kendrick Lamar.

Those willing to stand and be themselves entirely are the true heroes of society – and Sampa absolutely embodies this. “Do you have your crowns with you? It’s not an actual crown you’re wearing on your head through, you’re all royalty,” she says during the show to huge applause. Everyone felt like the hero.  The four-part harmonies between Sampa and her backing vocalists are nothing short of spine tingling.  She comes across as so genuine in a live setting, her glee and gratitude to her fans very apparent when she speaks – “you don’t understand – I appreciate you guys so much…” Though similar words are spoken by many performers, something about the way she says it makes you believe she truly means it. The slinky guitars, bouncing rhythm and punchy bass encourage so much movement, as the entire room rises and falls to the flawless rhythmic ebb and flow of the performance.

Sampa haunts the room with her sheer craftsmanship and her absolute stranglehold on her art form. She is an empowering, inspirational and powerful representation of what her gender can achieve in an art form that has too long been dominated by male counterparts. Inspiring her gender and all people to express themselves openly and to be their own heroes is a theme which runs through her music and through her performance. She tells the room that “we are all here on Earth, and we have to express ourselves.” In perhaps the sweetest moment of the set, Sampa contacted her very proud mum in Zambia on Skype, saying hello and showing her the overjoyed crowd.
An incredible night filled with outstanding artists and infectious energy, the performances of both Remi and Sampa The Great solidified their positions within the rap community, and further demonstrated how they are some of the best and most original voices on the scene.