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Sample Track 1:
"Success" from Afropolitan Dreams
Sample Track 2:
"Make You No Forget ft. Seun Kuti" from Afropolitan Dreams
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Blitz the Ambassador, Afropolitan Dreams Blitz the Ambassador Shakes Up Images of Africa and Immigration with Afropolitan Dreams

“I wanted a story that wasn’t just about glamour, but that captured the challenges for young immigrants as well,” says Ghanaian-born, NYC-forged rapper, producer, and thinker Blitz the Ambassador of his new album, Afropolitan Dreams (release: April 28, 2014).

With a vision that embraces his personal West African past and a revolutionary future of Afropolitan cross-pollination, the young MC meshes African popular sounds, American vintage soul, and hard-hitting beats and lyrics with the help of an international cast of collaborators, including the elegant Angelique Kidjo and Afrobeat firebrand Seun Kuti.

But as always with Blitz, the album is about far more than the music. It’s about the Immigrants who made America, who shaped and molded it. Each person, each generation, each bearer of culture arriving on a boat or airplane has made an impression. Immigration is the chain that links the past to the present, the near to the seemingly far.

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Afropolitan Dreams tells a story of disruption and connection that Blitz the Ambassador knows very well. He’s lived it.

“I told some of the story on my last album, Native Sun,” he explains. “That was the journey to America in search of a dream. This is a sort of continuation, but with more detail about what it’s like to start at the bottom and work up. Afropolitan Dreams was inspired by meeting peers in different disciplines. What we had in common was that we were all immigrants.”

Blitz himself arrived in the US in 2001, fresh from Ghana, where he’d grown up listening to American soul, the highlife of his homeland, the Afrobeat of Fela Kuti, and the old-school hip-hop of Public Enemy, Rakim, and KRS-One. He was ready to make his own dream real.

And on Blitz’s tracks, everything is culled from and shaped by intense experience. He remembers his first day in America, taking the A train in New York out to Bedford-Stuyvesant, the cacophony, languages, dreams and aspirations that filled the subway car, and that became the opening cut, “Arrival.”

“I wanted that disruptive energy, almost a disconnect from reality,” he explains. “And from there I had to create a sonic world. At the start the energy is very Western, but African elements come through more and more as it goes along.”

The constant throughout Afropolitan Dreams is Blitz’s rapping. The rhymes run free, but they’re clear-eyed, sometimes quite emotional, as on “Call Waiting,” where an admission of homesickness is lost through a phone disconnect. It’s a telling, moving moment, one that Blitz has gone through himself. On the album it’s sweetened by the voice of the great Benin singer Angelique Kidjo on the track.

“She’s a highlight,” Blitz enthuses. “The right voice on the right song. That diva voice.”

But she’s not the only guest. Nigerian songstress Nneka is there for “Love On The Run” and Fela Kuti’s youngest son Seun brings Afrobeat to “Make You No Forget.” It’s the linchpin track of the disc, the place where Africa and America finally come together.

“I needed something that sounded like home,” Blitz notes. “Finding that place where Ghanaian highlife, hip-hop, and Afrobeat intersect, it’s a sweet spot. That’s why Seun is perfect, this is what he does.”

What’s gone before and what’s still to come are the yin and yang of the immigrant dream, and that’s what Blitz explores on “Africa Is The Future,” where the kora, percussion and indisputably African singing propel the track under Blitz’s words.

“It takes it all back there, to Africa, it goes full circle. Before I finished recording I went back to Ghana to for inspiration. One thing about living somewhere is that you think about where you’re needed most. My generation is very different from the one that went before. We never have to lose track of what’s happening where we came from, thanks to the Internet and better communication. It’s like we can live a life in parallel, we’re figuring out how to inject ourselves into two cultures.”

And it really is two different cultures. Brief soundbites offer insights into the immigrant experience of finding a new home away from home – the disbelieving immigration official, the recorded message with an international phone card (“Press 5 for English”). The struggle to carve out a niche, to make it is lovingly documented and celebrated with “Success.”

Like the album that went before it, Afropolitan Dreams is a very accomplished, personal vision. And a very thoughtful, detailed one. Blitz’s passion for old soul shows in the thick grooves, from the funk of James Brown to the depth that marked Marvin Gaye’s best work.

“He’s a huge influence on this record, especially What’s Going On. The way one track will bleed into another, for instance, and the way he arranged everything. I took a lot from that, but also from classic hip-hop, the feel they had and what they were talking about.”

Once again, Blitz worked with his seven-piece band, Embassy Ensemble, on the record, singing every line into a microphone for the instrumentalists to copy. “It’s the only way I know how to work,” Blitz reflects. “I have brilliant guys just get what I’m trying to do. They latched on to the feeling. I brought in a string section for a few pieces, but really, it’s us.”

Innovative, personal, and hugely creative, it’s the soundtrack of Blitz the Ambassador making his Afropolitan Dreams a global reality.

<< release: 04/28/14 >>