This year has been rough. Prince is dead, Ali is gone, and Donald Trump is the president-elect of the United States of America. With so much turmoil happening around the world, finding joy can often feel like an impossible task. Thankfully, Blitz the Ambassador’s powerful new album is here to remind us that—together—we gon’ make it.
In his latest project, Diasporadical, the rapper and filmmaker set out to reach a lofty goal: to connect the children of Africa from across the globe and give them a voice.
“It’s important that we reclaim all of our heritage,” he tells EBONY. And for Blitz—a Ghana born, U.S. educated emcee who has traveled extensively—his mission is spelled out right in the title of the album.
“The name itself kinda explains it. It’s a radical notion that African people, wherever we’re spread out, have the resources and the ability to reconnect and own our destiny,” he says.
“Sadly as much as I traveled, I rarely come into to a place where there are enough Black people who have found this balance—and that goes for the [African] continent, America, and Europe.” He continues, “I think a large amount of it is just because we haven’t connected and we don’t understand that any time we’ve made any particular strides it’s been from pulling our abilities together.”
A self-described “staunch Pan-Africanist,” Blitz traveled between Accra, Ghana, Salvador Bahia, Brazil and Brooklyn, New York reveling in the similarities of African descended people in each locale, to create Diasporadical, a bass-heavy album full of lush melodies, meaningful lyrics about love, politics, and traditional African spirituality, and juju—so much damn juju—you can’t help but dance as soon as the first track, “Hello Africa,” starts booming through your speakers.
Broken into three acts and accompanied by a gorgeous short film shot in Accra, Salvador Bahia, and Brooklyn, Diasporadical perfectly blends West African inspired rhythms and live instrumentation with modern hip-hop beats and rhymes to create a sound that is as diverse and magical and unapologetically Black and as the people who inspired it.
With help from producers like Optiks and IAMNOBODI, and a host of African artists such as Tumi, Akua Naru, Kamau, Patrice, M.anifest and Somi, Diasporadical will not only make listeners nod their heads, but it’ll hit them straight in the heart, too.
But of course, that’s the goal.
Though you’ve likely never heard Blitz’s fiery rhymes on your local radio station, he isn’t stressing it. He just keeps creating.
“I know that the work I’m doing will have its time,” he says. “I don’t trip at all when it comes to this idea that if you’re not on the radio then you’re not valid and people don’t care. I’ve been all over the world and I’ve met people who have walked up to me and told me how important the work we’re doing is, and you see it changes lives.”
In addition to being a fierce emcee, Blitz is also a TED Fellow, filmmaker, and founder of the Africa Film Society, an organization that “seeks to preserve and promote Africa’s rich cinematic legacy while cultivating new filmmakers and nurturing an audience for their work.” While he loves to create and is passionate about advocating for and connecting African people around the globe, it’s Toni Morrison’s advice to artists that keeps him pushing forward when things get difficult.
“The important thing for us, as Toni Morrison would say, is to continue to do our work and not be distracted by all this noise, because the more we focus on the noise the less the work gets done and then the status quo continues,” he says. “So the burden is always on us to be the ones that do the work and make sure our work, whether it’s music, film, telling our stories, or organizing around issues and building these global alliance–the burden of proof is always on us, and we have to do that work.”
Though the challenges are great, particularly as we head into the Trump era, Blitz remains hopeful about the future because he’s witnessed Black folks around the diaspora sharing, learning, and being inspired by each other.
“I know a lot of people have been taken aback by 2016, but I’ve visited about 10 African countries this year and I’ve seen how many people are beginning to look around the globe for inspiration amongst each other,” he says citing movements like #BlackLivesMatter in the U.S. and #FeesMustFall in South Africa. “So, I’m encouraged.”
After listening to Diasporadical on repeat, so are we.
Britni Danielle is the Entertainment/Culture Director of EBONY. Follow her on Twitter @BritniDWrites