Shine Your Light
The Blitz Ambassador
Blitz the Ambassador Brings the Pan-African Noise with Native SunA blindingly bright clarity drives Blitz the Ambassador. With a spot-on sense of flow, he name-checks Basquiat and Lumumba, evokes lovelorn sighs on Accra buses, émigré alienation, history’s shadows. All set to swirls of brass, distorted guitars, and the crackle and pop of old amplifiers.With a lightning-fast mind, the political boldness of Chuck D, and the sixth groove sense of Fela Kuti, the Ghanaian-born, New York-based MC, composer, and producer unleashes psychedelic Afrobeat colors and triple-time rhymes on Native Sun.Blitz grew up when the fierce promise of Afrocentric, intellectually discerning rap was at its peak. In the Accra of his youth, the golden age of hip hop lived on long after rap began to go (Dirty) South in the U.S. In barbershops and on well-loved cassettes, young people rallied around a fresh and defiant expression of their concerns and perspectives.
“When you hear young people have such a command, speaking so assertively about how they feel, it resonates with you no matter where you are,” reflects Blitz. “Especially if you live in a stricter society with strong social codes where young people’s voices aren’t heard, hip hop can be a major outlet.”
It all came together, resounding in his head after Blitz left home and began to feel his way toward his own voice and sound. He figured out how to launch a blazing rap in 6/8, a favorite Afropop time signature heard on the track “En-trance,” or effortlessly blend the beauties of scratching with hardcore interlocking melodies. He shifts between Twi, West African Pigeon, and English, between good old R&B and Ethiopian funk jazz (“Native Sun”), without losing a beat.
“It’s easy to throw a bunch of elements together, but you have to find points where they intersect,” Blitz explains. “You have to create something so that you can’t tell where the hip hop begins and where the Afrobeat ends, and where highlife stops and future beats start. You have to create a world of equal parts.”
Refracted by life in the diaspora, the sounds Blitz became increasingly drawn to—starting on mixtapes in college and continuing with his live instrumental hip hop outfit Stereotype—crashed up against the commercial reality of what his favorite music had become.
“Native Sun the album is a journey backwards, back through hip hop, the Caribbean soundsystem culture that preceded it, back to its African roots, with the final kora,” notes Blitz. “The film looks forward, to what could be. Both are about the longing for home we feel in the diaspora, and about letting go of old notions and embracing new ideas. The sound in itself speaks to that.”