BLITZ the AMBASSADOR Interview
|Artist:||Blitz The Ambassador|
|Next Project:||Suicide Sterotype (Coming Fall '07)|
|Twitter:||Blitz The Ambassador on Twitter|
|Website:||Blitz The Ambassador's Website|
Get yourself a passport playa, hip-hop’s gone global. Atlanta and New York may be hip-hop epicenters but MCs are laying down tracks everywhere from Tokyo to Baghdad. Brooklyn rapper Blitz the Ambassador grew up in Africa and is using the mic to bridge the gap between America and the world. Politically conscious with the skills and work ethic to match, Blitz can currently be seen on tour just about anywhere in the world. In an exclusive interview with DJBooth.net, Nathan talks to Blitz about his upcoming album, the return of the b-boy, and the importance of rocking a live show.
Blitz The Ambassador Interview Transcription
DJ Booth: What’s up everyone, this is Nathan from DJBooth.net and today we’re on the frontlines of the revolution. I’m on the phone with Blitz the Ambassador. How you doin man?
Blitz: Doin’ excellent man, how are ya?
DJ Booth: Great, thanks. Let’s start out with your name. You’re Blitz the Ambassador, what are you an ambassador of?
Blitz: I get that all the time. First of all I’m from Ghana originally, and that’s the beginning of my understanding of the world. Growin’ up in Ghana that’s all I ever wanted to be, someone who championed the cause of my folks back home who you don’t get to see represented right in terms of mass media. That’s what I’m an ambassador of first. Of course hip-hop is my life, my career, I’ve been able to express myself through hip-hop for years so it’s something I rep wherever I go. I want people to know that dude reps hip-hop. So it’s two fold; I’m an ambassador of hip-hop, and where I’m from and of everyone who’s trying to move the world in a positive direction.
DJ Booth: Speakin’ on that I know you were born and grew up in Ghana, what are the similarities between the hip-hop scene in Ghana and in Brooklyn. Is there a true global hip-hop culture or do things change as you go to different countries?
Blitz: I’ve traveled extensively, I’ve been in Europe, Africa, Asia, so I have a good sense of global hip-hip. When you travel is when you see people that are in hip-hop culture not for the money, and I’m not saying that’s a bad thing, but people do it for the love. What’s sad about what’s happening in the birthplace of hip-hop is commercialism has played a crazy part of how people view and express themselves. You go to Europe and cats are still b-boyin, you go to Africa and they’re still freestylin’ in ciphers. When you come out here it’s kind of wack if you’re not signed and you don’t have a fat cold chain. In terms of similarities it’s still the same feeling of one MC, one B-Boy, or one DJ just capturing that moment. That’s what always attracted me to hip-hop, was that people who didn’t have an outlet could let the world know how they felt. It’s global. You go to Cuba, you go to Latin America, and cats are finding power in hip-hop.
DJ Booth: Going back to the basics, a lot of the commercial hip-hop you spoke of seems to be related to downloads and ringtones. I know you’re doing a lot of live shows right now, how important is a live show?
Blitz: Hip-hop is live. My favorite MC is KRS-ONE, I have most of his records but it’s nothing like seeing him live. For me getting into hip-hop, it was all about standing in front of people and cutting the middleman out. With a live show you can’t buy your way through nothing, there’s nothing that separates you from the fan. That’s where a real MC is born. It’s all about a live show, everything else is secondary. Being in the studio and being able to record is great, but at the end of the day if you can’t perform these records they’re pointless. Being on stage is something I always dreamt about and getting the opportunity to do it on this scale for thousands of people at a time, trying to connect to seven thousand or ten thousand, that’s the challenge.
DJ Booth: I go to so many live shows and when MCs go “put your hands in the air” it seems played out. Then the first time I saw KRS-ONE and he said “put your hands in the air,” I remember thinking ok, he invented that. Yeah, I’ll put my hands in the air. He’s just on another level on the live show.
Blitz: When you see Common and other dudes who do they thing it’s clear they watched KRS. That’s beauty, but hip-hop’s lacking that continuity. I want the stage presence that dudes got. It’s a great thing, being able to reinvent the live show and make it a live experience. That’s what the game is lacking right now, cats are still using the same old tactics, [and] you’ve got to make it an experience. I’ll bring eight horns on stage; I’ll bring a whole live band on stage. I’ll always have my DJ cause that’s a cornerstone, but my goal is to make it something you’ll go tell a friend about.
DJ Booth: I know you recently got signed up to do the Warped Tour, are you excited to be a part of that?
Blitz: I’m absolutely excited. That’s huge; it’s fifty dates back to back. It’s a lot of energy and I’m really excited about it.
DJ Booth: Do you think it’s going to be different performing in front of a crowd that’s maybe more rock oriented than you’re used to?
Blitz: It’s music, good music is good music. I can sit back and vibe to Coldplay, vibe to Portishead, vibe to Rakim. If you can get on stage and be genuine about what you do whatever the crowd is like…I’ve played for an all-white audience, an all-black audience, an all-Asian audience, it’s all about being able to connect to the people. If you’re genuine and what you’re saying resonates they’re gonna be for it. I’m really excited and looking forward to it.
DJ Booth: Any chance of a rock, hip-hop collaboration, maybe with some of the more political punk acts or something like that?
Blitz: Man I grew up listening to Rage [Against the Machine], I can’t wait to do a record with Tom Morello. To me, that’s hip-hop. People put hip-hop in this crazy box and anytime you’re able to step out and do anything outside the norm, like when the first dude starting doing the headspin, that’s hip-hop to me. Regardless of what genre you’re in, go above and beyond. You’re talking about kids growing up in the reggae era having nothing but being able to create an art form out of it, that’s hip-hop. All these dudes doing the same set-up, the same boom-bap, the same whatever, to me that’s dead. I’m looking for exciting new people who are able to make something out of nothing. I’m trying to play that position. Speaking of the Warped Tour, I’m doing another big gig called the Brooklyn Hip-Hop festival with Ghostface Killa, Consequence, [and] Skillz. These are people who’ve innovated and made something out of nothing. That’s the goal for hip-hop.
DJ Booth: You said you were mixing your new album Suicide Stereotype, what can folks expect coming off that album?
Blitz: You can expect everything I just talked about, reaching out and doing records that people are not really willing to put out there like that. My goal, and I’ve always said this, if I’m gonna be a part of hip-hop I’ve got to bring something. I can’t come and cannibalize off what De La Soul did, or what Mos Def did, what KRS did, I got to bring a whole new demographic to the game. I got to add to the game, not take away. My music is always about trying to bridge that gap between Africans on the continent and the world. To take that step you’ve got to understand world music and African music, and find a way to mix it and still make hip-hop. I have collaborations with a rock band called Madison, speaking of rock, that’s real brilliant. I did a record with Rob Murat, a brilliant soul singer, I did everything from an eight-piece brass ensemble to an eight-piece string ensemble. It’s a way to push hip-hop. In recent memory the person that was able to do that really well was Kanye West. He didn’t have to do what he did, bringing an entire choir into a record, taking gospel and making it hip-hop. That’s my goal for Suicide Stereotype, making a record everyone can connect to.
DJ Booth: Kanye’s crazy to me because he’s the only rapper with a Benz and a backpack. He can do an “I want diamonds” song, and “Diamonds from Sierra Leone.” That really speaks to the complexity of hip-hop, not hypocrisy but complexity, which people are afraid to touch. Hip-hop has the political facet, it’s got the materialistic facet, are you bringing the same thing?
Blitz: I have this argument with my so-called backpacker friends. We have to find a way to break out of these boxes we get put into and typecast as hip-hop artists. My belief is that hip-hop is a culture, and in any culture you’re gonna have extremes and middle ground. Being able to walk through any community you’ll find an economic side of the community, a political side, you’re not gonna find just one thing. There’s not one person doing the same thing all day every day. Hip-hop is complex. It’s easy for people to point fingers and say that dude’s a hypocrite for saying this or saying that, but the truth about the world is who isn’t a hypocrite? We all talk about things we wish would happen, we wanna save the world, we wanna stop the war, but we wanna rock Nikes and Adidas. The shirt you got is made in China. The point I’m trying to make is we’re in a world of hypocrisies, its complex, and until we as hip-hop fans, and an audience, and as a generation as a whole, are able to embrace the complexity of hip-hop we’ll always get typecast. The image is some guy with a gold grill speaking incoherently, that’s the image. There’s hip-hop artists that have been to college, where’s that representation? There’s hip-hop artists that aren’t comfortable with using cuss words, where’s that representation? My goal is to bring that complexity, like Kanye did and artists before him did. When it was actually acceptable to speak on stuff happening at the moment. That’s the goal.
DJ Booth: I think what hip-hop needs is music that’s a reflection of people’s lives, and the complexity of people’s lives, it’s definitely good to hear you bringin’ that.
Blitz: Of course, that’s the goal.
DJ Booth: I really appreciate you takin’ the time, when is the album dropping?
Blitz: The album’s dropping this fall, we’re still going back and forth and tweaking. I just shot the first video off the album called B-Boy Massacre, that’s my tribute to a section of hip-hop I’ve always loved and admired. The b-boy is someone who doesn’t necessarily get the props but that element is the hardest to master and be a part of. Every time I see b-boys break I step back, I don’t think hip-hop’s anything without the b-boy. That record’s a tribute to the circle. It’s produced by my man Optiks, a brilliant producer from Cincinnati, Ohio, That’s the first record we’re gonna put out and push and hopefully the b-boy community gets behind it. The entire project doesn’t drop until the end of the year. I’m hoping we can build a real solid fan base, that’s something the internet has done through sites like DJBooth.net, to let cats know there’s a whole sub-genre of people brewing that aren’t content with what’s going on and trying to find a way to bring their shit to the forefront. I hope it gets embraced.
DJ Booth: Maybe we’ll have heads breaking to your records in the clubs, that’d be something to see.
Blitz: Kanye had people singin about Jesus in the club, maybe we can bring back the breakdancin, make that popular again, and shine some light on em.
DJ Booth: I’d love to see it. Why don’t you hit people off with a MySpace or somewhere they can find out more about you and your music.
Blitz: It’s myspace.com/blitztheambassador, spelled correctly, and my website’s just www.blitztheambassador.com and I’m one of those cats that if you send me a message I’m on it, I’m hittin you right back. This is really about creating a fan base that’s connected to your music. I’m not just trying to be on TV, I’m trying to build a base that’s going to hold me down, that’s the beginning.
DJ Booth: I appreciate you takin the time and we’ll definitely be on the look out for the album.
Blitz: No doubt, I appreciate it. Shout out to DJBooth!