Blitz The Ambassador

Blitz the Ambassador is one of Ghana’s most talented and promising MC’s. Originally a visual artist Samuel Bazawule was recognized for his talented eye during his stay at Achimota School. Sometime shorty after completion of school he transitioned into music  and the African music scene is greater because of it. From what I’ve come to understand about African Hip Hop and the artist that represent it Blitz the Ambassador is one of the best to come out of Africa.What I like most about this track is although it has international appeal Blitz doesn’t seem to be going out of his way to sell his music to anyone outside of Africa like some artist do in South Africa.

After his college graduation while still early on in his rap career Blitz relocated to NYC, the birthplace of Hip hop  to peruse a career in Hip Hop. With that being said there are certain voice cadences that NY hip hop artist use when they spit that Blitz uses often.  Although he was African born he’s truly an Ambassador of the country and the music scene there.

In featured track above “Hello Africa” the listener is seemingly taken on a musical tour through Africa via sound waves. However it’s not only through African sounds but there is a throwback to some underground sounds familiar to hip hop here in the states.  There is a Huston Texas influence with the chopped and screwed vocals that is almost reminiscent of UGK which communicates to me that Blitz is a hardcore fan of Hip Hop.

The track is rapped in a Ghanaian language and the instrumentation accompaniment seems to be a combination of american Hip Hop influence as well as traditional sounds of Africa. Blitz exercises his unique flow pattern and NY influenced cadences over the lavish instrumental and the result is a seeming less blend.

Contrast of Cultures

Today I’m revisiting one of my favorite South African Hip Hop artists AKA in an effort to compare his song messages and visual presentation with Drake. This is the second time I’ve written about AKA. I’ve subconsciously find myself gravitating toward his music because he spits in English which is more attractive to me as an American hip hop fan. He also embodies physical and talent similarities to Drake which is why I’ve chosen to compared the two. His track Composure is a braggadocios exclamation point on his ability, appeal and success. With Composure the listener is exposed to the usual formula of success we have come to expect from him. The young MC understands that he has worked his way up to a platform as being a “king” in his own right and Composure is his way of reminding his competition. The visuals for the most part are simplistic yet complex. There are a myriad of effects that can be seen in the video. For example there are over 10 different transition effects in the photo shoot scene yet in the mirrored image scene there are 5 different effects. The result is an earlier AKA at his best.

In 2010 Drake came into his own with his much anticipated album Thank Me Later. The track features an exciting feature from the legendary then incarcerated Lil’ Wayne. The  track features a confident early Drake ready to take on all challengers much like AKA above. They both are confident and braggadocios which has been the formula for hip hop since its creation in the late 70’s. Both Artists have similar messages in a sense of their confidence and willingness to succeed without the help of others that initially denied them.  Both tracks were released at the beginning of the rise of each artist respectively and the messages in both promise success in their careers.

Ghanaian Groves

I’m relatively new to the intricate and unique sounds of African Hip Hop. There is a great sense of diverse sounding Hip Hop that I’m simply not used to nor was I aware of.  One thing that I’ve learned in my new journey into sound is the amazing music that is produced by Ghanaian rap artists. The Hip Hop scene in Ghana is responsible for producing some of Africa’s rawest sounding artists. Artists like Reggie Rockstone, M.Anifest, Wanluv The Kubolor, Tinny, Sarkodie, the list goes on. With that being said my discovery of Edem’s Gbevu was pleasantly on par with my expectations. Edem is a popular Ghanaian rapper who spits in ewe. For myself, I personally find his music a bet refreshing because the language barrier is easier to manage. Although this is not a socially conscious track I believe it has major international potential.

The instrumental to the track Gbevu has an almost Ghanaian/ middle eastern flavor. It’s pleasantly similar to a sound that Timberland the american super producer would create. I would like to note that the sounds of auto-tune here are pleasantly layered over his chorus vocals.  When I watched the official video for the track I instantly noticed the familiar fashion. Everything from the skinny jeans tucked in timbs, Adidas tennis shoes, Hennis & Morits sweatshirts, snap-back hats, ray band sunshades, form fitting extended length T shirts look American.

There are even instances in the video where popular american dances are either mentioned or subtly performed. (Edem mentions and does the migos’ Dab at 1:11 in the video above followed by a milly rock at 2:20) I mentioned that because I’m happy to see integration of African American culture with Ghanaian culture.  Growing up African in America its popular to believe that Africans in Africa want nothing to do with African-Americans or their culture. Seeing things like American dances, fashion and even hearing american influences debunk that belief. Edem is an amazing talent and I look forward to discover more tantalizing sounds of the motherland.



Sounds of South Africa

Here we have a more Hip Hop sounding track from some of some of the most traditional sounding hip hop artists South Africa has to offer.  The Track “Baddest” explodes with a flavorful beat and hard hitting lyrics from AKA, Burna Boy, Khuli Chana & Yanga combining their talents for an almost cipher like collaboration. Everything about the glamorous video from the production quality, style of dress, flashy jewelry (gold bottoms) pays homage to the traditional look of hip hop.  As the track flows effortlessly from MC to MC neither of them lose the catchy rhythm or a beat. Africa has firmly planted itself in Hip Hop and songs like “baddest” deserve more attention in the States.

Toya Delazy brings her listeners a unique grungy pop synth sound with her 2011 track Pump it up. I immediately noticed a distinct difference in her overall sound influence as well as her instrumentation. Her fashion and music style is completely different as compared to AKA. She brings an alternative view of the music coming out of South Africa that deserves as much attention. And Although Toya’s style is completely different compared to AKA & company its more than equally as good and deserves as much praise. What she lacks in the rawness of a traditional hip hop MC Delazy makes up for in creativity as she effortlessly combines a myriad of different sounds and inspirations creating something distinctive and awe-worthy.  He sounds transport me to a time in the 90’s where all of the music coming out of the States was different in its own right. Everyone was attempting to find their own sound as they bravely experimented with new styles colors and sounds and I think Delazy has successfully and stylishly captured a decade of soul searching and experimentation in one track.