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Blitz The Ambassador | Afropolitan Dreams

album review by John Powell

Blitz The Ambassador | Afropolitan Dreams

It’s not fair that other rappers have to survive in a world with Blitz The Ambassador. I don’t think I’ve heard a hip/hop artist more respectable than Blitz. His vocals are magic, whether it’s his smooth operator flow, his pleasant timbre, or more than everything, his lyrics. A mindful, courageous artist that uses a live band instead of overly-computerized beats or samples- Blitz embarks on his next quest with Afropolitan Dreams. The album is somewhat conceptual, as all his records have been. Here he captures life on the road, especially an international one, a musician traveling from his home country to his second home in New York City, and then everywhere in between. The album is funky, heady, and astute- a must have.

“The Arrival” is a great choice to start off the record. The intro has sounds of the NYC subway system, strings, booming bass, and plunking keys, setting a dark tone. Then Blitz comes in over the splintering horns with “It’s never as easy as it seems/ living Afropolitan dreams.” When the whole band comes in it’s pure fire, with Blitz offering his first thoughts on current music: “Kids in Africa/ forgetting Little Wayne/ can never feel their pain.” Later he has one of the album’s best lines: “They say you can force a horse to water/ but you can’t force it to drink/ Well, you can force knowledge on people/ but you can’t force them to think.”

Blitz rushes the stage again with “Dollar and a Dream”, a funkier track with the guitars soaring in and out. The song’s about becoming a rapper in the big city, “Just a kid from Africa/ here to tell my story.” Later he raps about going everywhere with his CDs in his backpack, trying to sling a few before Rolling Stone gave him “four stars outta five.”

“Call Waiting” is a sad track where Blitz first calls his son from the road. “You been practicin’ on your drumset?/ You broke your sticks?/ Don’t be upset.” In the second verse he speaks with his mom, where he’s a little more vulnerable than when he stays positive for his son. “Of course I’m taking time out to eat/ I get a little sleep.”

Throughout all of this, the band matches West African rhythms and vibes with New York funk and zinging hip-hop, like The Roots with more worldliness. Hand percussion, horns, and tight drum n’ bass support Blitz incredibly well, and because it’s all live, the album has a cohesive sound. Blitz is either rapping in his mid-tempo swagger or triple-timing it to live up to his namesake.

“Some things change/ and some might not,” Blitz swears on “Make You No Forget”, and he may be speaking to his own sound, with the same energy that made Native Son unforgettable, but each of his albums has taken on particular qualities that make them stand alone.

This album bridges West African rock, funk, soul, and hip/hop, and therefore is deliciously digestible. If Blitz is the bow and his raps the arrow, and your eardrums are the targets, then Afropolitan Dreams is the bullseye.

Bottom line: Rapper with a live band captures making it as a musician in modern times. Recommended.


 

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