For lovers of creative, left-field hip-hop, Blitz the Ambassador is the dude you want to get acquainted with. Growing up in Accra, Ghana but now based in Brooklyn, New York, the indie MC and graphic designer first emerged in 2004 with a series of mixtapes, opening listeners up to his unique hybrid of afrocentric beats and skilful wordplay. He quickly built up his profile after being co-signed by Questlove’s OkayPlayer camp and releasing studio debut album Stereotype in 2009. Described by hiphopdx.com as “full of worth-while maturity and musicianship with little filler and compelling results” it’s paved the way for his recent release, Native Sun, brimming with plenty more highlife, afro-beat and thoughtful politics (Public Enemy’s Chuck D is even on board!) The 29-year-old will be landing in London on August 3rd for a show at Cargo, so TCé caught up with him to discuss African hip-hop, stereotyping and being a native son.
On fusing African music and hip-hop
I feel like African music has always been here and it has always been present and it has just been filed under the world category for so long that it became kinda like the alternative music. But African Hip Hop is becoming as important as any other kind of music. More and more artists have become way more African-centred and they’re using African music as the basis now. People are saying, “listen man, I’ll (include) the balafon, I’ll bring a kora,” things that wouldn’t necessarily be in the hip hop context, but once you introduce it, it’s fresh and it’s new.
On the perception of Africa
I feel like Africa has a stereotypical view – and most of it is negative, very few people think about the positive and it is necessary that I don’t perpetuate the negative and its necessary that I present a new Africa, you know which has always been here but unfortunately the media doesn’t care about.
On the future of African MCs
I think we haven’t even started this, I fell like that there are thousands of MCs back home who are just waiting for the few of us that are kinda in the belly of the beast, to open doors. I feel like there is going to be a flood. I saw it happen with the reggaeton movement, it took a few people to open up and the flood gates opened up. – and I think that regardless whether you’re a fan of the genre or not, it is very important that everybody’s voice is heard.
On Native Sun
With this record I’m diggin much deeper, into where it all started for me.. I’m going back to Osibi, I’m going back to Fela, I’m going back to the Miriam Makeba, I’m going back to music where it all started for me, Also I’m rhyming a lot in my native language, which I didn’t do much on my last album (Stereotype), so this is something new for me and I think people are going to be blown away by the sound. My real goal for this album is to emigrate African music in Hip Hop and I feel like I’m finally at the place where I can represent for African music and Hip Hop Music.
The Doctor’s Orders Present Blitz The Ambassador with The Embassy Ensemble & The Stepkids (Stones Throw) at Cargo on August 3rd (with support from DJ Spin Doctor & Charlie Dark). Tickets are £5 in advance (£8 on the door) but for more info, click here.