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PROCESS: THE ALBUM AND THE FILM

Sampha has teamed up with Khalil Joesph, the director behind Beyoncé’s visual masterpiece Lemonade, to create an extraordinary companion film for his debut album, Process (Young Turks/Beggars Group).

Presented by Young Turks and Apple Music,  a special screening at MOCA  was arranged by head of content Larry Jackson—a powerfully relevant setting considering the current exhibition is the 35-year retrospective of  African-American painter Kerry James Marshall called Mastry, which features over 80 works that depict various scenes from Black life and culture (and is not to be missed—the collection is at MOCA through 7/3).

The film Process is a nearly 40-minute expression of the life and influences that forged the music of Sampha Sisay, from his roots in both Morden, South London and Freetown, Sierra Leone.  The director weaves striking imagery symbolic of the artist’s deep connections to both places and to his late parents with songs from the debut album with depth, emotion and soul.

Tuning into Sampha’s family story will certainly connect listeners to the haunting sorrow heard so clearly in his voice.  He’s had more than his share of heartbreak.

After Sisay’s parents relocated from Sierra Leone to London, he lost his father to lung cancer. Then his older brother had a stroke that left him disabled.  In 2010, his mother, Binty, began her battle with cancer—caring for her delayed the release of his debut album, and he lost her in 2015. That struggle, pain, empathy and healing is all channeled into the short film by Joseph, who was able to conceptualize the emotional turmoil with the same supernatural style he captured for the infidelity storybook that was Beyoncé’s Lemonade.   Although the raw emotions behind Process are grounded in another kind of loss, there is beauty in the hard lessons of life, which is the overlapping theme of both projects.

What’s notable here is how carefully conceptualized film pieces accompanying certain album releases are taking on the dimensional experience for the music fan that was formerly provided in physical album packaging of a release.  In the digital music/Netflix era, this is a dynamic evolution for liner notes and album art.

Process is streaming now at Apple Music.

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