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Talking Music: A Conversation with Blitz the Ambassador and Yaba Blay

with Blitz the Ambassador & Dr. Yaba Blay
February 11th, 2016
12:00 PM


Thursday, February 11, 2016

Forum for Scholars and Publics (Old Chem 011)

12:00 p.m. - 1:00 p.m

Light lunch served.

Ghanaian-born, Brooklyn-based rapper Blitz the Ambassador spoke with Dr. Yaba Blay, Visiting Professor at North Carolina Central University, about his career and hip-hop culture today. The two covered Afropolitanism, urban hip-hop, and Blitz’s unique trajectory born in Ghana, raised in Brooklyn. The conversation preceded Blitz the Ambassador's concert at 8:00 p.m. at Motorco Music Hall, organized by Duke Performances.
Blitz just completed his film project 'diasporadical trilogy' and is excited to discuss the themes in the films. Here are links to the three videos shot in Accra, Brooklyn, and Bahia exploring magical realism in the African diaspora:

Blitz’s ‘Native Sun’ film

Native Sun • A short film by Blitz the Ambassador & Terence Nance from Friends of MVMT on Vimeo.

A part of Talking Music: Conversations with Scholars, Writers, Archivists, and Artists, co-sponsored by Duke Performances and the Forum for Scholars and Publics. This installment in the series is also co-sponsored by the Duke Africa Initiative. Made possible, in part, with a grant from The Mary Duke Biddle Foundation.

Blitz the Ambassador

Ghanaian-American rapper Blitz the Ambassador makes no bones about his mission. He blends elements of Ghanaian highlife with the fiercest and most socially engaged ’90s hip-hop, drawing inspiration from the super-charged rhythms of Fela Kuti and the thunderous delivery of his hero Chuck D. The result is a pointed commentary about Africa and America that is at once smart and outrageously danceable. With a vision that embraces his personal West African past and a revolutionary future of Afropolitan cross-pollination, Blitz the Ambassador meshes African popular sounds, American vintage soul, and hard-hitting beats and lyrics with the help of an international cast of collaborators, including the elegant Angelique Kidjo and Afrobeat firebrand Seun Kuti. “Blitz is one of the leading voices in the growing movement connecting the classic sound of American hip-hop with stories and musical traditions of Africa and the African diaspora” (Afropop Worldwide).

Yaba Blay

Drexel University

Dr. Yaba Blay is a professor, producer, and publisher. As a researcher and ethnographer, she uses personal and social narratives to disrupt fundamental assumptions about cultures and identities. As a cultural worker and producer, she uses images to inform consciousness, incite dialogue, and inspire others into action and transformation. 

Dr. Blay received her BA in Psychology (Cum Laude) from Salisbury State University, M.Ed. in Counseling Psychology from the University of New Orleans, and M.A. and Ph.D. in African American Studies from Temple University with a Graduate Certificate in Women’s Studies. She is currently co-Director and Assistant Teaching Professor of Africana Studies at Drexel University. Dr. Blay is also the publisher and editor-in-chief of BLACKprint Press.

Recently named to The Root 100 (2014), an annual list of top Black influencers, Dr. Blay is one of today’s leading voices on colorism and global skin color politics. Her commentary has been featured on CNN, MSNBC, NPR, Ebony MagazineThe Philadelphia Inquirer, The Root, Huffington Post Live, Colorlines, Al Jazeera America and elsewhere. Her book, (1)ne Drop: Shifting the Lens on Race, explores the interconnected nuances of skin color politics and Black racial identity, and challenges narrow perceptions of Blackness as both an identity and lived reality. In 2012, she served as a Consulting Producer for CNN Black in America – “Who is Black in America?” – a television documentary inspired by the scope of her (1)ne Drop project. In addition to her production work for CNN, Dr. Blay is producing a transmedia film project focused on the global practice of skin bleaching (with director Terence Nance); and has co-written a feature-length film entitled Black Sunshine (with director Akosua Adoma Owusu)