Tuesday, April 19, 2011

Ghana's Blitz the Ambassador rides his vim onto the international stage (Museke)

Of course, there is vim in the subject so it made me VIM too. Culled from Museke.com

"I spoke and the whole world felt it". This is the first line on Blitz the Ambassador's Soul Rebel track. I've known Blitz as far back as the days when he was called Bazaar and was featuring on Deeba's hit "Deeba" rapping in English. When he featured on Obrafour's Who Born You by Mistake, I fell in love with his flow. And then he came to the US, and was reborn as Blitz the Ambassador. I remember when he would come perform in Boston while he was a student at Kent State in Ohio and I would go see him. I would be the only Ghanaian sometimes while he made white people nod their heads to his lyrics. I knew he was going to be special. He had to be. His music and messages were way too important for him not to be relevant.

"Freedom is more than a rap song, you got the facts wrong. My rap is too heavy for backpackers to strap on". We've seen many African artists based in the US struggle. Many (like Wanlov & Mensa of the FOKN Bois) have had to return to their native countries to finally 'make it'. Blitz stayed in the USA and hustled from city to city, on buses and on trains touring and making a name for himself. His music has always been conscious and we know that music doesn't sell like the Jay-Z's and the Kanye's. The ceiling for Blitz looked like that of Mos Def and Talib Kweli. Though his songs will not be out of place in clubs and bars, he made you pay attention to his lyrics. That style doesn't sell but brings you respect and in the right frames, untold success.

"Just ignore my words, my album cover speaks for itself". The album cover for his debut album, "Soul Rebel", showed metaphorically the way Blitz was going to be. He was an African child waging a war of 'good' on a hip-hop industry. He rapped "I will rather be industry's bucket than be another industry puppet". I was very happy to hear his Together song on the soundtrack of Shirley Frimpong-Manso's first movie, "Life and Living it" though I wonder how much airplay the song had on Ghanaian radio. When I heard the song at the end of the movie, I was like, "This is a very good (English) hip-hop song". And I then realised, "I've heard this before. I have this song. It's by Blitz".

"This is not a record, this is an experience". He returned with "Double Consciousness". Like the debut album, you only have to listen to the title track to figure out the album. The chorus goes "There's two sides to every book, there's two sides to every hook, it's double consciousness." He repped Ghana in this album as always, especially with the track Sankofa. Through Blitz, I also learnt about the story of Emmett Till, the boy whose murder sparked the civil rights movement in the US. Every time I hear his name, I think of Blitz. Blitz has a sense of history, whether it is African-American or African, etc. He draws on cultural inspiration everywhere he goes and you can hear it in his music.

I'm tryna find my way... Gotta believe me. You gotta have something to believe in. A couple of years ago, he released Stereotype, a live-instrument-heavy musical exploration, that tests the limits of Hip Hop, according to the Wikipedia article on Blitz. I don't have his album so can't comment much on it. Like every good musician, he knew the importance of live-band music and this led him to form a band, The Embassy Ensemble. He spent a long time trying to be signed by a major label. When that proved futile, he established Embassy MVMT. When he released a tribute to Ghana's Black Stars, I had realised his music had come full circle with the way he was performing and not just rapping.

Been around the world and .... "Just a heart that knows no defeat". Samuel 'Blitz' Bazawule has persevered and the hard work is paying off. His videos have been played on MTV and video channels across the world. He has toured far and wide. Recently, through a link posted on Museke's Facebook page, I found myself looking at a music festival in Portugal where Cheikh Lo, Manou Golla and others were going to play. And then I saw a link for Blitz's video 'Breathe' featuring Rob Murat. I wondered, what is he doing here? But as my friends Eli Jacobs-Fantauzzi (director of the Hiplife documentary, Homegrown) and H. Samy Alim (hip-hop instructor at Stanford University) said, "Blitz's craftmanship and music is just top-notch and can succeed in any type of environment". And that has him going places.

"Return of the prodigal son, still second to none. Flashbacks' how it all begun". His latest album, the 12-song "Native Sun", is a deeper, more roots-oriented record with the first single, 'Best I Can' and Les Nubians on the track 'Dear Africa'. The new album provides a vivid soundtrack to the story of a young boy's daunting pilgrimage from the countryside to the capital city of Accra to find his father, who he only knows from a photo given to him from his deceased mother. He wrote, co-directed and shot a short-film also called "Native Sun", set in Ghana, that follows an imaginative young boy as he searches for his father. It features music from the album. It will be released on May 3. Join the Kickstarter campaign to help crowd-fund it. Get the album on iTunes.

"Five fingers in the air means nothing, we clench to a fist then we all mean something. You and I have to get involved". On the occasion of his birthday, I salute Samuel Bazawule on his hard work and how he has progressed in his music career. He has blazed the trail for other African musicians based in the US to follow, especially in hip-hop. He is releasing his album in Ghana, all over the US and the globe. Follow him on Twitter at @BlitztheAmbassador and on Facebook through http://www.facebook.com/BlitzAmbassador. His website is http://blitz.mvmt.com. Catch him live soon, he's a joy to behold.

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

What is the job of the Ghanaian ambassadors, embassies and consulates? #Ghana

Earlier this year, the Ghanaian Ambassador to the US, His Excellency Daniel Ohene Agyekum, was at Stanford to meet members of this community. It was a 90-minute meeting organized by the Akwaaba (Ghanaian Students Association) here, spearheaded by Kwadwo Osei-Opare. I wasn't sure what to make of the meeting. I have never really encountered politicians or statesmen that close (from Ghana). Either way, let's get into what happened.

I was given the honour of introducing the ambassador. I knew about him as a one-time Ashanti Regional minister during Rawlings' time. I grew up in Kumasi. After the intro, Mr. Agyekum gave a little speech to the audience. Half of us were Ghanaian students, others were Caucasian and Black American. As a historian, Mr. Agyekum saw it to talk about Ghana's history, the might of the Ashanti kingdom and how Ghana is really democratic. The Ghanaians in the room must have been wondering, "erm, we know this already". But it wasn't just Ghanaians in the room. He was there to sell "Ghana" to non-Ghanaians too. Apparently, it's part of his job to sell Ghana and woo investment.

I wonder if he gives this speech everywhere as he woos foreign investors to Ghana. I kept thinking, "why are we talking about democracy so much?" We've been democratic for almost 20 years now, it's nothing to celebrate. Don't give me the other African nations are not enjoying the democracy we have story. Democracy is not putting money in our pockets or creating wealth. I'll pardon the democracy story because it is an important factor in wooing foreign investors. But, Let's start talking human capital too.

I love how he signed off talking about the Black Stars drawing England's football team in Wembley the day before. He managed to lick old wounds by saying Ghana's team dumped Team USA out of the last two World Cups. The proudest moments for Ghanaians are about the recent World Cup exploits of its Black Stars. It's debatable and we probably should find better things to be proud upon discussion.

One of the things I was thinking about before the meeting was - what is the job of Ghana's embassies? Is it only to give visas out to people who want to visit Ghana? From the interaction with the ambassador, it's clear it is also there to woo investors and sell Ghana within the country. Mr. Agyekum mentioned that his jurisdiction includes places like Mexico and the Carribean so he'd been doing a lot of traveling.

To cut this short, I wanna see our Ghanaian embassies do more to support Ghanaian efforts abroad. If Atta Mills has to put more budget, let him do it. We need our best brains everywhere working for Ghana everywhere.

Monday, April 11, 2011

Barcamp #Kumasi, networking event, is on April 16 at Royal Lamerta Hotel #bcksi

BarCamp Kumasi 2011 is a networking event to bring people together for a day of discussion, demos and dialogue about Kumasi, Ghana and beyond. It will consist of user-generated sessions and discussions. BarCamp Kumasi 2011 will take place on April 16, 2011 at Royal Lamerta Hotel in Kumasi, Ghana. The theme is “Developing a hub for regional integration”. BarCamp Kumasi ’11 is a FREE event for anyone who is interested in using their skills, talent, and resources to benefit Kumasi, Ghana and Africa as a whole.

The BarCamp Ghana team has successfully organized six BarCamps in Ghana. Barcamp Ghana is a project being run by the GhanaThink Foundation, an NGO based both in Ghana and the USA. A BarCamp is a user-generated conference (or unconference). Barcamp Kumasi 2010 was organized at the Kwame Nkrumah University of Science and Technology on September 18, 2010 with the theme - ‘Collaboration: The key for opportunity and development’. It brought together about 80 residents with major discussions around “Fostering Entrepreneurship through collaboration and technology”, “Women Issues and the effects it has on Ghana's development”, and “Herbal medicine usage and adoption in Ghana: Success and failures” to name a few.
Register/RSVP today at the BarCamp Kumasi eventbrite website. You may also contact the BarCamp Kumasi team through this website for sponsorship opportunities. If you are interested in organizing a breakout session, let us know, especially if you have special needs.

BarCamp Kumasi 2010 is sponsored by Royal Lamerta Hotel, National Service Personnel of Ghana, National Society of Black Engineers (KNUST chapter), GhanaThink Foundation, Fienipa Group, etc. Our media partners are Kapital 97.1 FM, Focus 94.3 FM and ModernGhana.com.

Register at http://barcampkumasi11.eventbrite.com/
See you there! Contact us at barcampkumasi at gmail dot com

Wednesday, April 6, 2011

Shirley Frimpong-Manso returns with a cinema series called Adams Apple

I love Shirley Frimpong-Manso's movies and I think she made the Ghanaian movie industry better during her entry in 2008. She brought the movie-going experience back with her premieres and she's been awarded for her work. Perfect Picture will always be in the conversation for the best Ghanaian movie ever. She just released the trailer for her 7th movie - Adams Apple. Adams Apple makes you think of Eve, doesn't it? Well yeah, there are 4 Eves on adorned on the website of her new movie - . Is this another girl talk movie? We'll see.

I was alerted to this movie when I saw a post about it on Miss T-i-i-i-i's blog - http://myafricanmoviereviews.blogspot.com/. Apparently, Adams Apple is going to be a ten chapter cinema movie series. Yes, I will give Shirley and Sparrow a pass on the many parts. Because we know there will be 10 parts. You can't say the same for other Nollywood and Ghanaian movies. How Sparrow will keep the story and interest going is to be seen. ”Adams Apple” features Josselyn Dumas, Naa Ashorkor, Yvonne Okoro, John Dumelo, Adjetey Anang, etc. I love the fact that KSM's sister who was in his movie 'Double' - Anima Misa Amoah is in Adams Apple.

One of the first thoughts I had when I saw the movie website was 'Girlfriends'. People have called Shirley Ghana's Tyler Perry and likened her to those who made Hollywood movies like Love and Basketball, Love Jones, How Stella Got Her Groove Back, The Best Man, Brown Sugar, etc. Now these are great movies, but they never won Oscars. I feel Shirley's ceiling would be making a series of movies that will be popular but not great. Leila Djansi on the other hand, has made Sinking Sands and I Sing Of A Well, both of which have won many awards and gained her international recognition, outside Ghana, Nigeria and the Nollywood watching populace. Leila has a bigger ceiling. I'll tell you about her third movie soon, but before that blog post arrives, check out Ties That Bind.

While Leila's movies are getting better, Shirley's movies have been getting worse. Not a good look. And now we are going to be subjected to a 10-part series. I'll be watching but I hope Shirley has some new stories up her sleeve. Surprise me.

Check out my reviews of Shirley's Checkmate, Life and Living it, Scorned, The Perfect Picture, and A Sting in a Tale (ASIAT). I didn't review 6 hours to Christmas and it's a little late but I kinda liked the movie simply because it was set around Christmas.


Adams Apple premieres on 21st April at the National Theatre. ADAMS APPLES is set in the hustle and bustle of Accra and its surburbs with glimpses of the exciting metropolis of London. It tells the story of four "Adams" ghanaian women; a widowed wife of an ex-diplomat and her three daughters in their early and mid-thirties. Each chapter of Adams Apples will open at the cinema every month over a 12 months period. The first chapter will begin with the grand premiere on the 21st April at the National Theatre and subsequent chapters released consecutively at Silverbird Cinema till February 2012.

Monday, April 4, 2011

Ty Bello arrives just in time with The Future (We are #Nigeria) music video

My favorite song from Nigeria this year finally has a music video! Oh, you don't know the song? It's simple, artistic and straight to the point. It is no short of vim. It makes you pay attention to the lyrics because you have to. The song sounds as good as the first time I heard it. How can't I fall in love with a song with lyrics like "The future is here, the future is here." You know the song now? It's called 'The Future' by Ty Bello. Nigerian youth, the future is here. Show you know this by voting this month. Invest yourself in the decision-making of Nigeria.

Toyin Shokefun Bello made a huge splash on the Nigerian music scene in 2007 with her song Green land. "The land is green". It was patriotic and Nigerian. And then I heard Freedom, which I also loved. She's a celebrated photographer and award winning artiste. Creativity should be her middle name. So when Nigerian musicians started making inspirational songs in the run-up to the elections happening later this month, Toyin had to end her musical silence and get in the act. And her single outshines every single one in that line in my opinion. "The Future", is a 'Call To War', charging all Nigerians to take back the Glory of their Country. The music video is directed by 'Kemi Adetiba and was shot in Lagos, Nigeria.

The video begins with this message from different Nigerians.
Nigeria hasn't always justified the faith of its people, but it comes a time when you're pushed to the wall and there's no way to go but up;
If we just decide in our hearts that we want to believe in Nigeria and we want to take steps every day to make this country a better place;
This is our dream, and a new Nigeria is that dream that we so much seek and desire;
The destiny of Nigeria is in our hands, we are the country, the country is us;
We are Nigeria;
We are that turning point generation;
We are Nigeria, we are the Future;

Watch the video


The music video ends with this message
The future is not a timezone that is yet to come;
The future is everything that we can be but have not yet become;
The future is everything that we can do but have not yet done;
The future is here, the future is now;
So go ahead and deliver the future;
Because you can, because you must;
Together we build

Much props to our friends at @cpafrica for letting us know about the latest from the Nigerian musician/photographer. Check out the article about the video release.

Friday, April 1, 2011

African musicians sing about BBM and the Blackberry craze (Museke)

I am sure you have all heard about the Blackberry Craze sweeping Africa. Blackberry Messenger (BBM) is all the rage. Nollywood has already documented this. Learn about it here and watch the movie BlackBerry babes there. African musicians are doing the same too. Museke.com already gave you lyrics and introduced you to Liquideep's popular song called BBM. The South African group won the song of the year at the MTV Africa Music Awards with Fairytale.

Well, thanks to my friend Ade, there are other Blackberry songs I want to introduce you to.

BB PIN (all star remix) - Misturr Montana ft Eva, Dee Splash, Reminisce, Cartiar & Cee Jay

JAHBORNE - Let's Make a Video Ft Muno (OFFICIAL VIDEO)

Riz - PING!!! Me Baby

BBM by Liquideep

What's your BB Pin? :-)
I don't have one. I use an Android phone - Whatsapp people!

Info Culled from Museke.com

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