“Atlantic Canada’s next big thing” – Complex
“Comforting, effervescent, intoxicating” – CBC Music
Listening to Aquakultre’s Don’t Trip is like stepping into a Halifax house party in full swing. Throughout 12 jam-packed songs, the award-winning rapper and neo-soul songwriter Lance Sampson is joined by over 20 guests from locations spanning the globe.
Despite its massive guest list, Don’t Trip is a deeply personal project. Sampson began working on the full-length followup to his breakout album, Legacy, in March 2020 while the pandemic lockdown forced him to remain inside with his family. The album was originally conceptualised as a five-song EP based on the first three weeks of a budding relationship with his partner Julia, when they barely left her bedroom. Eating ice cream and pizza, drinking wine, and listening to Lauryn Hill records was the start of a passionate love affair.
“I called the album Don’t Trip because when Julia and I first met we were both in a place of being tired of looking for someone,” Sampson explains. “Both of us were getting out of exhausting relationships where we had done everything in our power to make them work. Once we met each other, it was like closing that chapter of looking for the right person.”
“Like that one house on your block where there’s a party happening every weekend, Aquakultre’s sophomore album is a boisterous and ebullient gathering, the kind where you knock on the door not to complain about the noise but in hopes that they invite you in. ” – Dominionated
– Watch videos for ‘Africvillean Funk’ // ‘Lunch’ // ‘Don’t Trip’ –
Initially, Sampson envisioned the album’s sound as a tribute to every era of R&B. “I Can Wait”, featuring Chudi Harris, Zamani Miller, and underground Halifax rapper Nixx, is his homage to the classic mid-2000s rumpshaker sound reminiscent of Next’s “Too Close.” Elsewhere, the lush retro vibes of “Magic” reckon with Sampson’s upbringing from an absentee father. Through certain choices, he was not always present in the life of most of his 11 children, yet also became an artistic inspiration. Continuing the family affair, Phoenix Pagliacci and O’Sound’s voices flow through the horn-propelled boogie funk of “You Got Feets”, with lyrics about a grandmother busting out her best moves.
In the process of reaching out to musicians he admired, DON’T TRIP expanded into the most ambitious project of Aquakultre’s career. “I’m For Real” finds him trading bars with Ransom against a g-funk backdrop, with cuts by local legend DJ Uncle Fester. “Getting Close” shows off Sampson’s rapping skills with a little help from Black Buffalo labelmates Sargeant X Comrade. “It’s All Good”, featuring Lakita Wiggins and Trobiz, was inspired by Musiq Soulchild’s classic album Aijuswanaseing. DON’T TRIP wraps up like a brown paper bag in Sampson’s closing collaboration with New Jack Swing duo DJ Chidow and Vadell Gabriel, bringing those house party vibes back in full effect.
“This album is totally posse’d out,” Sampson concludes. “Ideas kept flowing, so I tried to get as many artists involved that I’ve made relationships with over the years as possible. A lot of COVID-era art encapsulates the difficult times we’re living through, but I wanted to flip the script and get back to dancing and having fun. I feel like sometimes I have a hard time connecting with artists and producers that are making the music that I enjoy. So I’m very thankful that folks were just as excited as I was creating this.”