Adelaide Rapper SamPaul's Need To Create Feeds His Inner Fire As He Expands His Sonic Palette On New Album 'Coming Home'

Adelaide hip hop artist, SamPaul's newest album is titled 'Coming Home'.
National Music Editor, based in Brisbane, Australia.
'Passionate about true crime docos, the Swannies, golf and sleep, I’ve been writing about music for 20-plus years. What I’ve learnt? There’s two types of music – good and bad.’

A stalwart of Adelaide's underground hip hop scene for almost 20 years, SamPaul has released seven albums across his journey.

Now he has stepped up to the plate for an eighth time to record what he says is his most ambitious as well as most vulnerable album to date 'Coming Home', SamPaul expanding his sonic palette by adding pop, rock, folk and trap tones to his original compositions.

Also a strong advocate of mental health, taking an active role teaching and mentoring school students to overcome daily struggles by embracing their creative selves, SamPaul has been nominated twice (2021, 2022) in the annual HELP Awards.

An honest voice promoting a genuine approach to making music as well as living life, 'Coming Home' is DIY, underground hip hop that's brimming with soul promoting love and compassion. What's not to like about that.

You've been making music for close on 20 years; the journey you've undertaken since then to now, how vital has music and making music being to your own development?
I think music has been extremely vital. Making music requires a certain amount of introspection, and vulnerability. Expressing yourself requires you to often face your demons. You can't help but work on those issues and demons when you find yourself facing them daily.

The floor is yours; what's the main aspect of your new album 'Coming Home' you want to share with our readers?
I'll answer that in two parts. Firstly, that the concept of coming home isn't as much a destination, as it about a person with whom you feel completely comfortable with. KC is that person for me.

The second part is I hope that by touching on the topics of the album, it may reach people struggling with the same issues. Show them they aren't alone in their struggles. I've always tried to put a positive spin on any darkness I face, and hopefully that translates through my album.

Why is this album your most ambitious and most vulnerable that's true to you as an artist?
All my life I have been a purveyor of music, of all genres. Yet, before this album, I don't think my music reflected those influences.

With this album, although it is still at its core a hip hop album, I feel I have incorporated much more of what influences me. There's splatterings of pop, rock, folk and trap. The fact I found myself singing on this album, something I've never done before, is the main aspect that is ambitious.

That, and the fact I have only one rap collaborator on here. I consciously wanted to make an album that holds up, without the need for a heap of guest verses.

This release also sees you explore outside the realm of hip hop, with pop, rock, folk, trap sounds to be found on 'Coming Home' – what instigated this move?
I felt my previous albums weren't as representative of me as a person or artist, because my tastes and interests are far wider than just hip hop. With the support and encouragement of my girl Kahlia, I felt I could actually step outside of straight hip hop and comfortably explore other genres that make up who I am.

This album also sees you singing for the first time; what motivated that decision and can we expect more SamPaul tracks to feature you singing?
That was a difficult decision to make. I've never considered myself a singer! But I decided, for myself personally, to engage a singing teacher for a while. She was really encouraging and gave me the confidence to sing more publicly (not just in the car or shower).

This was further encouraged by Kahlia, as I mentioned earlier. She has been instrumental in helping me believe in myself as a person and an artist. She's the inspiration behind a lot of the album, and the sole reason I believed in myself enough to release a song with me singing. And yes, there will definitely be some future SamPaul tracks that feature me singing.

What fuels your inner fire to feed the creativity you harness in your own music?
It's almost a compulsion. I wrote poetry before I knew how to write music, and honestly I don't know how I'd function now without it. The need to create is what feeds the fire. I've also received negativity from some (in the past) and I turn that negativity into the passion which drives me.

Take us back to your early days when your first exposure to hip hop was being a b-boy... what kind of stuff did you get up to as a kid that began your journey to becoming a hip hop artist?
My older brother showed me and my younger brother 'Beat Street', 'Wildstyle' and 'Breakdance'. That was probably my first exposure to the hip hop culture.

Growing up in Darwin, it seemed the b-boying and graffiti were the main stays. So I decided to try my hand at it. I could do graffiti on paper, but never had the nerve to do illegals (legals weren't a thing back then). So b-boying it was!

My mate and I used to use a flattened cardboard box on the street corner with a battery-powered boom box to 'bust' moves. To be honest though, I wasn't very good! Haha. We also used to ride our BMXs around the streets. We'd have our Walkman playing music while we rode around. It wasn't long until I discovered NWA, Onyx and Naughty By Nature.

You have also released a podcast where you discuss the new album as well as influences, your creative journey etc titled Naked The Podcast; what inspired that and what can people learn about you by listening?
Ok, so the podcast was influenced by an artist I admire Daniel Johns. To help launch his latest album he did a podcast, which discussed a lot of his past career.

I thought that was a really cool idea, so I put a post on my socials to see if there was anything fans wanted to know about my music career. I got a lot of questions sent in, so decided I'd put it together as a podcast, as a prequel to the album. I hoped to give some insight into me as a person and artist. Well I hope by listening they will get a better understanding of me, warts and all. By knowing me better, I hope it helps fans connect more with my music too.

The people you've met along the way; no doubt you've made plenty of connections and some life-long relationships – gaining those friendships must be such a rewarding aspect of making music?
Most definitely. I always think of Suffa (Hilltop Hoods). He raps in one song "thanks to hip hop I've got a bed in every state". And that's pretty much how it's been.

I've got some really tight friendships, not just here, but overseas as well. When you connect on a level fuelled by passion, it makes for a deep connection. It's really rewarding because you're all chasing the same dream, same goals, but you're also encouraging and inspiring each other too.

Any launch shows in the works you can share with us?
I'm currently talking to a promoter in Tasmania for a launch there, and a local promoter here in Adelaide too. Nothing solid yet but hoping to lock them in soon. Check my socials for more details as they come.

You've been nominated in back to back years in the HELP Awards (which celebrate outstanding contributions in health, engagement, learning & people) in 2021-2022; to have your work respected and appreciated in such a manner must propel you forward to keep doing what you're already doing, right?
Most definitely.

The award I've been nominated for with HELP is about mentors and the like. I do work (with Eskatology) mentoring school students in expressing themselves through hip hop, and opening their creative outlet. To be recognised, even nominated is both amazing and humbling.

Mental health and the related conversations is a subject that's a true passion of yours; can you take us inside this aspect of your life and convey just how important it is for you to play an active role in changing the perspectives of society in general?
I've been suffering anxiety for many years now, possibly longer but without recognising it.

One thing that's become obvious as I've dealt with it is the stigma attached to mental health, and particularly for men. Growing up men were meant to always be strong, we couldn't cry etc. This is a really negative mindset to perpetuate. Holding in those kinds of feelings can have disastrous effects.

So I feel it's vital for anyone, particularly those with a platform, to speak openly and help educate and inform. It's the only way to move forward and be part of the solution, to change these perspectives.

Best local takeaway joint for a midnight feed that will leave you with a food coma?
Not too many choices for a midnight feed, but my girl and I would often go past Maccas or Hungry Jacks for cheese burgers or nuggets. Hahahaha!

Which fictional character best describes your personality?
That's a tough one! I'm going to say Tigger, from 'Winnie The Pooh'. He's always happy, bouncing, a little crazy.

Last show you binge-watched?
The last one that had me glued was just last week. Incidentally, I binge a lot of shows! But it was a Samuel L. Jackson show called 'The Last Days Of Ptolemy Grey'. It was really well done. Great story. Incredible acting. Unfortunately it was only one season.

Would you ever partake in a reality show?
Unlikely although I have been told I should try for 'The Voice'. Not in an attempt to win, but more to use a platform to raise my artistic profile. But honestly, I think more often than not it's not a good move unless you're a pop artist.

Thanks for your time; anything else you'd like to add before we sign off?
A big shout to Kahlia for the love, support and inspiration. My son Chance, for his beautiful nature, and to my Mum (R.I.P.) for always believing in me.

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