Sampa The Great's Birds And The BEE9 is a record that's both deeply personal and outward-looking. The mixtape's points of reference are poised between her closely-held roots and an internationally-minded musical outlook. An assured picture of herself, she carries her identity through the many-sided musical influences which she draws from. Working with a close circle of producers to help realize her musical vision - including Kwes Darko, Sensible J and Alejandro ‘JJ' Abapo - spanning spiritually-minded gospel and chants to neo-soul and hip-hop, it's intertwined with a clearly-defined, no-holds-barred political outlook, and speaks a message of healing after her own experiences of hurt and pain.
This new mixtape showcases the qualities which were already evident in her first releases. Boasting an unhurried, assured delivery, it's the perfect foil for a self-aware, spiritually minded perspective. In "Can I Get A Key," for instance, she shines as both a singer and MC while bemoaning the gatekeepers who maintain the rarefied, exclusive nature of the art world. Set against a backdrop of rumbling sub-bass, she sings a defiant chorus – in harmony with an earworm-like, softly-played sax refrain – before diving into ridiculous, tongue-twisting lyricism set down with her customary offhand delivery. "Black Girl Magik" sees her reflect on the contribution and strength of black women, often unappreciated and overlooked, the track serves as a celebration of black womanhood. Against a loosely-built, pared-back beat, pairing steady drums with gently-played melodies, she flips from references to Yoruba to making puns on the language of spiritual consciousness.
Taking in influences from disparate different corners, it's an attitude that reflects her worldly perspective. As such, it's no surprise to hear the mixture of sounds that filter through the record. Be it the undercurrents of gospel and neo-soul which accompany reflections on her identity in "Bye River," or the spiritually-minded chants and claps of "Healing," it's an album that makes those sorts of connections seem effortless.