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Mon May 12, 2014
Album Review: 'Afropolitan Dreams'
Originally published on Wed May 14, 2014 6:26 pm
MELISSA BLOCK, HOST:
A Ghanaian hip-hop artist from Ghana, who goes by the name Blitz the Ambassador, explores his immigrant experience in a new album. Blitz came to the U.S. 14 years ago to study marketing. He now uses those skills to market his own music.
Reviewer Banning Eyre says the album "Afropolitan Dreams" reflects the rapper's multi-national life.
(SOUNDBITE OF A SONG)
UNIDENTIFIED WOMAN: This is Brooklyn Bridge...
UNIDENTIFIED MAN: Transfer is available to the Four and J Trains...
BANNING EYRE, BYLINE: Right from the start of "Afropolitan Dreams," Blitz the Ambassador locates himself in New York City with the signature sound of its subway. And it doesn't take long for him to tell us why he now lives there.
(SOUNDBITE OF SONG, "DOLLAR AND A DREAM")
BLITZ THE AMBASSADOR: (Rapping) rolling stones magazine four stars out of five. Look at me now, never in this game for the glory. Just a kid from Africa here to tell my story and all I had was a dollar and a dream. All I ever had was a dollar and a dream...
EYRE: Some folks say he's no hip-hop enough or not African enough. But the truth is, he's both and that's impressive. Blitz uses the hip-hop approach, sampling and channeling African music, R&B, Bhangra, jazz, whatever moves him. Sure, hip-hop purists might not appreciate Blitz's mix. But if you free your mind, to quote one of his earlier songs, the reward is rich.
(SOUNDBITE OF SONG, "MAKE YOU NO FORGET")
AMBASSADOR: (Rapping) What I used to do, oh, chale the cell phones from back in the day. Mobite, Megyin abonten na merekasa. Well, some things change and some might not. But when they reminisce over you, my God. Oh-hah, I say make you no forgeti where, where you from. As the weather dey hot, na so the hunger dey knock. Still hating the cops whether they like it or not. That's why you don't forget where...
EYRE: That's Blitz mixing it up with Afrobeat star Seun Kuti. Blitz invites all sorts of folks to this global party, including artists big in Africa, but lesser known here like the fastest rapper in Ghana, Sarkodie.
(SOUNDBITE OF SONG, "INTERNATIONALLY KNOWN")
AMBASSADOR: (Rapping) It's (unintelligible) representing for Africa (unintelligible)...
EYRE: Like any good rapper, Blitz tells his story. It's the story of an African in diaspora, hustling, striving, missing home, going home, coming back, trying to keep a clear head while shuffling between vastly different realities. You won't find many more wholesome rap records than this. Blitz celebrates big dreams, hard work and stamina. Through it all, he makes us believe, as he does, that Africa is the future.
(SOUNDBITE OF SONG, "AFRICA IS THE FUTURE")
AMBASSADOR: (Rapping) Africa, Africa is the future. Africa, Africa is the future. Africa, Africa is the future...
BLOCK: We've been listening to the album "Afropolitan Dreams" from Blitz the Ambassador, reviewed for us by Banning Eyre who's senior editor at Afropop.org.
(SOUNDBITE OF SONG, "AFRICA IS THE FUTURE")
AMBASSADOR: (Rapping) Africa is bigger. There is no future unless (unintelligible). United States, Africa, we salute you. a new state of mind, I introduce you. Close your eyes and visualize the rise of a new paradigm full of (unintelligible) skyscrapers, it's bound to blow your mind. Just run to the natural side of life, its life into orbit.
(Rapping) The African space program, it's so ironic how my currency (unintelligible) for a dollar or euro without the foreign aid unemployment here is zero. We never practice capitalism or socialism, we got Africanism and that is how we're living. Not Anglophone or Francophone, we got our own. Your (unintelligible) corporations that (unintelligible) us in our home.
(Rapping) Traveling and raveling the truth 'cause we figured out the West cannot live without the (unintelligible) we do. So now our images controlled by us, the whole...
BLOCK: This is NPR News. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.