On this installment of Immigrant Songs, I had the great pleasure of interviewing the Ghanaian-American Hip Hop artist Blitz the Ambassador. Blitz (a.k.a. Samuel Bazawule) represents a modern perspective on the immigrant experience: deeply colored by the internet and mobile technology, and a with a nuanced awareness of the current African scene.
In past generations, the immigrant artists typically made a one-way journey to their new home with possible trips back only after a decent period of time as an expatriate. Blitz travels to Africa regularly and incorporates the continental scene into his music and visual art. He expresses the immigrant experience as an artist not tied to nostalgia, but one free to explore all that is available in both the North American and African Continent today.
Kenyan-American trumpet player Owuor Arunga joined us for this interview. We’ve gained exposure to Arunga’s talent through his work with Macklemore on the multi-platinum selling record The Heist and he’s making waves with his music in new projects. Arunga also shares the same millennial immigrant experience as Blitz and is often abroad, participating in a musical dialogue with artists worldwide.
Both artists speak for a new Pan-Africanism that vaults over national or even continental borders, one that incorporates all aspects of artistic expression and utilizes the most current technology to share its message.
This is their Immigrant Song.
About Immigrant Songs:
Immigrant Songs is a series presented and produced by KEXP, with support from The Vilcek Foundation. Through in-studio performances, interviews with local and national artists, and other written content, co-curators and DJs Darek Mazzone and Chilly will explore the immigrant experience. Read more stories here.
About The Vilcek Foundation:
The Vilcek Foundation was established in 2000 by Jan and Marica Vilcek, immigrants from the former Czechoslovakia. The mission of the foundation, to honor the contributions of foreign-born scholars and artists living in the United States, was inspired by the couple’s careers in biomedical science and art history, respectively, as well as their personal experiences and appreciation for the opportunities they received as newcomers to this country. The foundation awards annual prizes to immigrant biomedical scientists and artists and sponsors cultural programs such as the Hawaii International Film Festival. To learn more, visit Vilcek.org.