Journey Through Sierra Leone & South London in Sampha's Emotional Short Film 'Process'

Sampha photographed Dec. 21, 2016, at Loft Studios in London.
Daniel Kennedy

Sampha photographed Dec. 21, 2016, at Loft Studios in London.

Sampha pairs a short film with his poignant debut Process. Premiering on Friday (March 31) exclusively on Apple Music, Process serves as a striking, avant-garde portrait of the British musician and his roots in Morden, South London, and Freetown, Sierra Leone. 

The 37-minute film -- presented by Apple and Young Turks -- combines documentary-style footage with stunning cinematic visuals of the African people in Freetown as well as the busy streets of the U.K. The British musician also makes cameos in between to perform in various locations, whether it's oceanside in West Africa, in an Underground station or a dark back alley in London. 

The project’s director, Kahlil Joseph -- who also contributed to Beyoncé’s HBO special Lemonade -- utilizes his dynamic storytelling skills to depict Sampha’s surroundings on top of Process tracks. For the lead single "Plastic 100°C," a group of still bodies are seen laying in an empty outdoor yard intertwined with performance footage of Sampha in an intimate concert as well as a solo show in a park. More upbeat gems like "Kora Sings," "Timmy's Prayer" and "Reverse Faults" among others also provide the mood for several sequences in the film. 

The short film also explores several themes: love (an African couple sharing intimate moments), family (an elderly mother of 14 kids reveals she has outlived her children, saying, "Everyone has died now. I'm the only one left") and African culture (groups of dancers in tribal garb perform ritualistic numbers). The spooky sequence for "Under" also features an African woman hidden in a forest, piercing eyes staring into the camera. Then there is Sampha, his warm vocals and his beloved piano, who brings a dream-like quality to the visual collage. 

Perhaps the most chest-clutching moment comes when Sampha performs “(No One Knows Me) Like the Piano” at his mother’s funeral. "That's the one that really hits home because that's the last song he sung his mother," a man's voice says in the film before depicting Sampha performing the personal record. A message also flashes across the scene before his rendition of the piano song that best sums up the nature of the film, as well as Sampha's relationship to his mother and his people: "I'm connected with you, no matter where you are." 

Shots of the Process short film will also appear via wall projections on storefronts scattered throughout Brooklyn, New York, and London starting Friday through April 14. You can watch the full film on Apple Music here

WALLSCAPE VIDEO PROJECTIONS - 3/31, 4/1, 4/7, 4/14 


NYC: North 7th & Bedford (7:30 p.m.-12:30 a.m.)
London: Shoreditch High Street Station & Brick Lane (7:40 p.m.-12:40 a.m.)


55 Wythe Ave.
101 Bedford Ave.
106 North 6th St.

58 Great Eastern St.
10 Dray Walk