Music
10:23 am
Mon October 7, 2013

Blitz: The Ambassador Of Hip-Hop And African Music

Rapper Blitz the Ambassador explains to Tell Me More for the occasional series "In Your Ear," that his favorite songs are the ones that helped shape his sound. "I keep these songs really close because they always remind me of where it all begins, and what makes me the artist that I am," he says.

As his name suggests, Blitz sees himself as an ambassador for Africa and hip-hop.

He champions Who're You, a song by Afro-pop legend Fela Kuti, "because of the urgency and the importance of his sound," Blitz explains. "As an artist who's from Ghana, Fela was somebody that, you know, resonated with everybody and is partially why I got into music, and why I continue to make music."

He points to another song — Public Enemy's Bring The Noise — as his start in hip-hop. "That's where it began for me," he says. But it wasn't as popular at home. "My parents hated the song and hated the title, because it was noisy. But it really, really informed me."


Blitz The Ambassador's Playlist

Who're You by Fela Kuti

Bring The Noise by Public Enemy

Funky Drummer by James Brown

Copyright 2013 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.

Transcript

CELESTE HEADLEE, HOST:

It's time now for the occasional series we call In Your Ear. That's where we ask guests to tell us about the songs they love to listen to, dance to, or just draw inspiration from. Blitz the Ambassador recently spoke to us about his EP "The Warm Up." It's a taste of what's to come on his album, "Afropolitan Dreams" later this year. As a rapper born in Ghana and now based in the U.S., as his name suggests, he sees himself as an ambassador for Africa and for hip-hop. And that's shown through the songs that inspire him.

(SOUNDBITE OF SONG "WHO'RE YOU" BY FELA KUTI)

SAMUEL BAZAWULE: This is Blitz the Ambassador. This is what's playing in my ear.

(SOUNDBITE OF SONG "WHO'RE YOU")

BAZAWULE: Honestly, as an artist who's, you know, from Ghana, Fela was somebody that, you know, resonated with everybody and is partially why I got into music and why I continue to make music because of the urgency and importance of his sound.

(SOUNDBITE OF SONG "WHO'RE YOU")

BAZAWULE: Of course, there's Public Enemy's "Bring the Noise," which, you know, was my beginning in hip-hop.

(SOUNDBITE OF SONG, "BRING THE NOISE" BY PUBLIC ENEMY)

BAZAWULE: That's where it begun for me and, you know, my parents hated the song and hated the title, because it was noisy. But, you know, it really, really informed me and informed me about the urgency that existed in hip-hop.

(SOUNDBITE OF SONG, "BRING THE NOISE")

(SOUNDBITE OF SONG, "FUNKY DRUMMER" BY JAMES BROWN)

BAZAWULE: James Brown's "Funky Drummer" is probably one of the most important songs to the culture of hip-hop, and also for my own understanding of soul and how that transitioned into funk and transitioned into hip-hop.

(SOUNDBITE OF SONG, "FUNKY DRUMMER")

BAZAWULE: So I keep these three songs very close because, you know, they always remind me of kind of where it all begins and what makes me the artist that I am. And, you know, kind of the elements that make my sound.

(SOUNDBITE OF SONG, "FUNKY DRUMMER")

HEADLEE: That was rapper Blitz the Ambassador telling us what's playing in his ear. To hear our original conversation with him, head over to our website at NPR.org/tellmemore.

(SOUNDBITE OF SONG, "FUNKY DRUMMER")

HEADLEE: And that's our program for today. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.