Sampa The Great Wins Australian Music Prize With ‘The Return’

Sampa the Great
Barun Chatterjee

Sampa the Great

Sampa The Great’s return was something special.

The Zambian-born, Melbourne-based hip-hop artist has bagged the prestigious Australian Music Prize, becoming the only musician to win the prestigious award twice.

This week, Sampa’s The Return was selected by a 48-strong music industry panel as 2019’s greatest album in Australia, an honor that’s accompanied by a A$30,000 ($20,000) cash prize.

Through its 15-year history no one has snagged two AMPs. That is, until now. Sampa won her first in 2017 for the acclaimed mixtape Birds And The BEE9.

The Return opened at No. 12 on the ARIA Albums Chart last year and topped the national vinyl chart on its release.

The LP “was not written for radio play or commercial appeal,” Sampa explains in a social media post. “It was written to bring to light the journey of a person who began her career in a country far away from home. It was to bring to light the sense of displacement felt in that journey and in a global sense throughout the world. It allowed me to tell my full story - without having it told for me. I thank the AMP for looking at solely the music and judging only that. As in this day and age it seems that is not the norm.”

The prestigious annual award is modeled on Britain's Mercury Music Prize and Canada's Polaris Prize, the goal of which is to identify and reward the outstanding creative Australian album of the past year.

“This year we had over 400 albums that met the eligible criteria for the award, which is a truly unbelievable nod to the amazing body of work being produced by Australian musicians in just the past twelve months,” said Australian Music Prize director Scott Murphy.

“Although it was an extremely hard decision to make, with so many amazing albums on the finalist list this year, we couldn’t be happier to award the prize to Sampa The Great. ‘The Return’ is a truly important record that will no doubt be held up as one of the all-time great bodies of work, for years to come.”

Sampa’s album beat out a shortlist that included recordings by Nick Cave and the Bad Seeds, Thelma Plum, Amyl & the Sniffers and more.

Stream 'The Return' below:

The 15th AMP Shortlist:
“All You Have Is All You Need” by Ainslie Wills
“Amyl & the Sniffers” by Amyl & the Sniffers
“Warpath Never Ended” by Dispossessed
“Crushing” by Julia Jacklin
“Triage” by Methyl Ethel
“Ghosteen” by Nick Cave & the Bad Seeds
“The Return” by Sampa The Great - WINNER
“Rebel Force” by Sleep D
“Better In Blak” by Thelma Plum

Previous AMP winners:
2018 - Djarimirri (Child Of The Rainbow) by Gurrumul
2017 – ‘Birds and the BEE9’ by Sampa the Great
2016 – ‘Reclaim Australia’ by A.B.Original
2015 – ‘Sometimes I Sit And Think, Sometimes I Just Sit’ by Courtney Barnett
2014 – ‘Raw X Infinity’ by REMI
2013 – ‘Not Art’ by Big Scary
2012 – ‘Hyperparadise’ by Hermitude
2011 – ‘Prisoner’ by The Jezabels
2010 – ‘Bliss Release’ by Cloud Control
2009 – ‘Wonder’ by Lisa Mitchell
2008 – ‘Primary Colours’ by Eddie Current Suppression Ring
2007 – ‘Devil’s Elbow’ by The Mess Hall
2006 – ‘Moo, You Bloody Choir’ by Augie March
2005 – ‘Wait Long By The River and the Bodies of Your Enemies Will Float By’ by The Drones

Stream the AMP playlist: