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Blitz: Hip Hop’s Most Sincere Ambassador

With the release of Native Sun, Blitz the Ambassador’s fourth album, the artist strove to show the ties of West African music and modern hip hop. The result is a blend of afrobeat, blues, rock, and rap. Alongside the album, Blitz made an accompanying film using footage spanning time and space to further connect the dots. The Brooklyn-based Blitz took time to discuss his new album, his roots, and the fate of hip hop.

How’d you get the nickname Blitz?

It revolves around the style that I started. You can hear it on that double-time, tongue- twisting. That was always my style. They’re saying, “Oh, you blitzed that,” and it stuck. It’s been my forte. “The Ambassador”, however, revolves around what I ended up being, which is a vehicle between these two worlds.

Native Sun has a live band. Tell me about that.

That actually came around when I was working on Stereo Type- I realized that if I wanted to expand the sound I was working on, I’d have to break out of the eight-bar loop I was using, sampling other people’s records. So, I started bringing in these musicians individually, to help me expand that. After a while, when I started to perform these records, I had to have the band there to have it make sense, to play it for what it was on the records. That’s how the band came together. That’s how the live instrumentation became a staple of what I do.

Do you write all the music parts of things?

All the non-sampled parts I do write. The thing, however, is that I’m not musically trained. It’s a very interesting concept, coming up with the music as it is. It’s me singing all these parts and these musicians trying to play what I sing. Some songs I have 35 to 40 tracks that are just horn lines and harmonies, guitar lines, strings, but it’s all sung. So, with the musicians we chop the music. That’s how we end up with what we have.

Do you bring the band with you on tour?

Absolutely. The live band is really how we sell the music we make. Without the live band there’s really not a lot to see, you know, so I bring the band with me: a horn section, drum, bass, guitar…

You play drums, right?

I play percussion in the band, yeah.

You were born in Ghana. Did you grow up there? When did you move to New York?

I grew up in Accra. I moved to New York when I was 18, and I’ve been there ever sense. I love it. Someone was asking me today about that, and I don’t even think I could come up with what I’d do outside of Brooklyn. There’s something about the environment that you can’t duplicate anywhere else.

I guess there’s something about the fact that most people that live in Brooklyn immigrated from elsewhere, so Brooklyn just has that vibe where most people are there to build something. It’s a collaborative vibe that exists and all the musicians that I personally know, they’re collaborative. I’m lucky to be here.

You rap in English and another language. What is that?

The other language is Twi. I grew up speaking that.




 

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