If you haven’t heard of Blitz the Ambassador yet, a) I’m glad you’re reading this, and b) you’re welcome. Blitz is an independent Ghanaian rapper, producer, composer, writer, visual artist, and filmmaker; one of the best live musicians I have ever seen perform, an insanely prolific artist with an excellent eye, and a dear friend of mine. After releasing Afropolitan Dreams earlier this year, his next project Diasporadical will be arriving in a few months because why not. We sat down in March in Brooklyn to chat about whatever came to mind and ended up in a discussion about self-belief, what motivates him, his background, the concept of success and how to stay true to your craft.
Blitz: You should never wish for success for success’ sake because what it does to you is that it makes you calculated, it kills what was natural.
A: It’s going to come with a cost.
Blitz: Absolutely. So appreciate that, appreciate those battles as little, as minute, as insignificant as they may appear, the truth about them is that what they do to you is prepare you for each step of that lane. And when you’re better, when you’ve mastered that high, you’re naturally elevated to the next high so you’re a balanced artist. You’re a balanced person. You find that people who are most arrogant in their craft are people who are insecure in their craft. Most people who are insecure in their craft is because they’re not balanced in their craft. So my goal always is I want to be a better artist, but I know being a better artist means being a better person so I work very hard at both.
In some loving and radical African spirit (can’t give too many props to Ghana, violates the Naija code), Blitz the Ambassador is giving away his entire catalog for $1 between now and January 1st! You may, if the spirit moves you, give more than a dollar.
From his Facebook page, “This has been 10 years in the making, 7 albums and over 60 songs. Please tag as many people as you know that will appreciate this. A dollar and a dream, y'all. Happy Holidays and look out for DIASPORADICAL in 2015.”
“I’ve always felt hip-hop as a culture hasn’t really yet embraced its international roots.” That’s something that Blitz the Ambassador is working to change. Born Samuel Bazawule in Ghana, he grew up listening to Public Enemy. Now, he’s a rapper in the U.S. His sound blends his rap influences like Chuck D with the Afrobeat sounds of Fela Kuti and the high-life music of his home.
All these influences helped to create his identity. “The more I traveled, the more I realized that there’s a specific role that I need to be playing, and that role is about bridging gaps and expanding the culture that I’ve been so blessed enough to be a part of,” he tells NPR’s Michel Martin. “That’s why I went with the Ambassador.”
Blitz’s Afropolitan Dreams will be out early next year. It’s a continuation of his musical journey documenting the African immigrant experience in America. He’s just released an EP The Warm Up as a taste of what’s to come.
A song like “African in New York” is “really just an assertion that we’re here. There are Africans in New York.” Blitz says he has always wanted someone to write a song about their experience, “selling bootlegs, or graduating from medical school, or driving cabs. It’s all these things that are part of our life and our culture as immigrants that need to be celebrated.
Blitz also feels that telling their story is part of a wider movement. "I feel like more and more young Africans are beginning to assert themselves and speak about their experience the way they see it,” he says.
Blitz shouts out writers like Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie and designer Ozwald Boateng as flying the flag for Africa. He says they share the same motivation. “What keeps us going? It is the fight against invisibility. It is the fight to say that, ‘Yo, we count, and we’re here.’ And, more importantly, we’re contributing so much color to the world.”
Their collective aspirational journey is what his upcoming album, Afropolitan Dreams, is all about. “This story really tells that transition from moving somewhere as an immigrant, kind of, not really knowing who you are, and finding yourself in that process. And then going from there to the world.”
For Blitz, the album’s name sums it up. “It’s the words African and cosmopolitan. That’s who we are.”
Thursday, Sep 19, 2013 Blitz the Ambassador at The Studio at Webster Hall +Chief Boima, Caktuz & Old Money 7:30 PM EDT (7:00 PM Doors) 125 E 11th St New York, NY 10003
Directed by Terence Nance, the “Something to Believe,” addresses the detachment we all battle when faced with the the world’s overwhelming issues. “It’s hard to think about all the problems in the world without getting a little overwhelmed. So, a lot of times we just ignore things.” Blitz said
BLITZ THE AMBASSADOR PREMIERS NEW ALBUM AT THE TALK PARTY
January 2014 has been awesome and we have the city to thank for that. Or should we say the Accra’s art circuit made it so? Either way our first TALK PARTY of the year hosted Blitz the Ambassador with new music videos, his short film Native Sun and his new album “Afropolitan Dreams”. We had a fun and engaging crowd who sat through all the new music and had questions when it was done playing. Native Sun screened before Le Nubians came on in 2011 during Blitz’s first home coming concert. The short screened again during the TALK PARTY which was good for all the people who hadn’t seen it.
Blitz’s new music videos, “DIKEMBE which was shot in Morocco and "SUCCESS” [shot in Japan] screened right after the short. “SUCCESS” got the most love as people kept asking for it over and over. By the time the conversations were over, we had discussed Blitz’s new album in detail amongst other things. From the lullabies by Angelique Kidjo and Seun Kuti to Nneka, “Afropolitan Dreams” showed how much Blitz’s music has matured since we last show him. Ambolley has things to say about “Afropolitan Dreams” and they were all good.
There certainly wouldn’t be no TALK PARTY without discussions straying into politics. This time the political debates led to discussions on genetically modified organisms and a call to join the just ended march against GMO. They TALK PARTY ended with a free style session between Blitz and Yaa Pono. Let’s do this again soon. cheers