Sami Baha - Free For All (LP)
Sami Baha is a Turkish producer based in South East London. His music was introduced to the world via his 2016 EP 'Mavericks' (Planet Mu), recorded while he was moving from Istanbul to London where he's now been living the last 3 years. Sami got into producing through being a rapper himself, working with local rappers in Turkey and producing beats for them, before setting his sights outside the country.
While his first record was focused around a more familiar trap based hiphop sound, 'Free For All' expands it's range into more unfamiliar territory and also brings his production into focus by featuring a number of MCs from all corners of the globe: UK drill squad 67's Dimzy, Stockholm's Yung Lean and Chicago rapper and singer DJ Nate (aka Flexxbabii) who's previously recorded on Planet Mu as a footwork producer. The record also features the rowdy sing-song of Egyptian MCs Dawsha and Abanob from Cairo whom Sami met while on tour in Egypt.
Musically, Sami's production is refined and elegant, familiar tropes are reassembled in original ways, the instrumentation reflecting his background and influences simultaneously. Take the Turkish style guitar and piano of the title track or the bells, bass and rippling hihats of 'Aliens' which beautifully rearrange familiar trap elements to create a sweet, emotionally charged song. Everything Sami brings to the album sounds relaxed and minimal, but tough, built from thoughtful arrangements and instruments, shot through with emotion and a dreamy night-time feel.
The title and front cover (devised and photographed by Beyza Ucak) carry the contradictions of Sami's music beautifully. He says 'Free For All' reflects his musical background, combined with modern genres, but also it's a gaming term where every player fights each other. The graffitied cover is from Sami's neighbourhood where he takes a walk everyday. He says "Sometimes it feels as if I am the only one around".