Blitz the Ambassador Jumps “In the Mix” [DJBooth Interview Exclusive]
New York, N.Y. -- Last week, we jumped "In the Mix" with Mikkey Halsted, the Windy City buzzmaker who recently brought us "I'm the Man." For the 22nd entry in our Booth-exclusive interview series, we're giving readers an up-close and personal look at Blitz the Ambassador, the Brooklyn-based emcee/producer whose latest full-length, Stereotype, was chosen by DJBooth staff as Best Hip-Hop Album (Unsigned/Independent) in our 2009 Best of the Booth awards.
Born and raised in Ghana, Blitz is a 10-year-plus industry vet with a global mindset and experience performing alongside some of the biggest artists in the hip-hop game. Together with his band, The Embassy Ensemble, the artist draws from a staggeringly diverse array of musical influences; elements from Fela Kuti, Bjork, Miles Davis, Nina Simone and Rakim are all incorporated into his lush signature sound. With '09's Stereotypes LP, Blitz set out to change the way hip-hop looks at the live band while sharing his perspective on rap and black culture. The result was hailed in the Booth and beyond as one of the year's best releases.
In this exclusive, five-question interview, Blitz the Ambassador discusses his reaction to Stereotype's Best of the Booth win, his impending West Coast, European and African tours, and what sets his live performances apart from your run-of-the-mill rap concert.
Stereotype won a 2009 "Best of the Booth" award for Best Independent Album. Did this accolade come as a surprise or did you know the project was that good?
Well, it's always great to be recognized for doing good work, but honestly I've been a little surprised by the love Stereotype is getting. Especially because it was released independently with hardly any push. We put all our energy into creating a dope product both sonically and visually so I guess it was only a matter of time.
In his review of Stereotype, our Nathan S. wrote "If I’m being overly elaborate with my praise of Stereotype, it’s because I already have a suspicion that it will be sadly slept on, largely because of its lack of obvious commercial viability." Do you feel the album was slept on, or has it achieved a satisfactory level of popularity?
I feel like any good work of art has to spread organically. Unlike a major label release that only has a three-month marketing window, we decided to have a long term marketing strategy for Stereotype. We just shot our third music video for the album and we are pushing it like it just came out even though its been out since August '09. I figure it took me three years to compose and record the album. Why not push it until everyone hears it?
You are about to embark on a 6-city West Coast tour starting in Berkeley, California. Admit it, you're just going on tour to get out of the cold weather, right?
Haha, any excuse to get out of NYC works for me. Don't get me wrong. I love Brooklyn, but the world need the kind of music we make. So you can't sit around playing the same shows in the same clubs. We got to get around. On the Cali tour we are playing UCLA, La Pena in Berkeley, Elbo Room in San Fran and Zanzibar in LA. Check out www.blitz.mvmt.com for details and ticket info. We are also doing our Africa and Europe tour this summer.
What makes a Blitz the Ambassador show different from "Rapper X?"
One word.....'Energy'. Me and my band 'The Mighty Embassy Ensemble' bring the kind of raw energy you have not seen in a while. From the crazy live horn section to the boombox mascot, I tried to design a show that is theatrical in nature. I figure if people pay money to see us, we should go above and beyond what they expect.
After skimming over your Twitter time-line its obvious that you're a huge soccer fan. So, [drum roll] name one thing you'd like to kick?
Final thoughts? Shouts? Confessions? Plugs?
We are on the road promoting Stereotype right now and I definitely recommend you come see us live. There is no better way to enjoy the music we make so check out www.blitz.mvmt.com for tour dates. Also look out for my Live Sessions special that airs in a few weeks on MTV 2 and MTV U. PEACE.