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
The Diasporadical Trilogia, Mami Wata and the Musician Blitz The Ambassador.
If there were any ultimate aims of Blitz The Ambassador’s Diasporadical trilogia, they could surely be summed up into the following:
i. demistifying semonised African spiritual practices ii.contributing to retrieving the sullied image of African/Black people.
The first installment of the trilogy, Juju Girl was shot in Accra and released in April 2015. The second, Shine- about a child, Ama, who was guarded and guided to safety by an anncestral spirit- was shot in Brooklyn, USA. The final installment, titled Running was released onto the internet last Friday. Running, which was shot in Bahia, Brazil, is basically about a family ehose threats-in the form of demolition men, are chased away by their guardian spirits, the Orishas.
This post though is to spotlight to those who may have not been aware, the folktale from which the second part of the Diasporadical Trilogia, Juju Girl, sprung. The myth, a very very old one, could be titled “Mamai Wata and the Musician” and it tells of…
“…a lonely singer [who] goes to the seaside with his musical instrument-which is his only companion, singing. A beautiful goddess known as Mami Wata comes out of the sea and makes love to the singer. After a while she leaves him and goes back to sea. The lonely singer returns the next day-again, with his instrument, sings so beautifully that Mami Wata the water goddess comes out of the sea and makes love to him again, and leaves after a while. This cycle is repeated the next day, and it becomes a rendezvous. Whenever Mami Wata returns to the sea though, this singer feels unbearable pain so much so that he begins to harbour fears that Mami Wata the lovely, powerful goddess might someday not come again. The prospect of this happening is so unimagineable to the singer, that only thinking these thoughts sadden and pain him, deeply.”
There is obviously a little variance in both tales, but then that’s typical of folklore, and besides, what an artistic licence to be used for?
Altogether, the Diasporadical trilogia has produced three breathtaking, spiritual films-produced by Blitz himself- that are deeply rooted in African spirituality- a testament to the endless magic our creatives could make from the timeless myths, legends, philosophies etc. of the ancestors.