SCENES FROM GNAOUA AND TWO AMAZING GHANAIAN MUSIC ICONS WHO MAKE US PROUD: KYEKYEKU AND BLITZ

Take a ride with us on camel backs or let’s just trek into the magical cosmopolitan Sahara dunes that Moroccan spaces offer. From the hazy or hippie surf turfs to the very tops of the Atlas mountains where the  laced or loose intricacies of untold magnitudes explode, merge or conform to the country folk life remote from the sophisticated scattering of urban strife, there’s one thing you can’t miss there- nature’s glow! Kyekyeku; splendid guitarist, profound palm wine high life brewer, producer and ideas man from Ghana explores these otherwise less known stretches and sums the still stir in a few lines: “high up in the Atlas mountains of Morrocco, lies beauties of untold magnitude; misty mountains, cascades and riverines. Berber villages on cliffs and minarets of earth perched on rocky pedestals. I had to make a stop and say a prayer!”

Kyekyeku on the Atlas altitudes

It’s mostly a sleepy fishing port plus whitewashed houses decorated with the trademark blue window shutters that make up Essaouira, but in June annually, the town swells to accommodate half a million people thronging in to experience the Gnaoua World Music Festival. This year U.S.-based Ghanaian hip hop mogul known to “send messages through committed texts;” Blitz the Ambassador, was one of the main artists adding colour to the festival. Also a producer, songwriter, singer and percussionist, Blitz who was born in Accra, Ghana has developed his art into a force with an incredible energy on stage, aided by a groovy band that sounds like an Afro-ethereal classic jazz and Motown fusion music movement. Other amazing artists on the bill were Christian Scott, Hassan Hakmoun, Songhoy Blues, Las Migas, Omar Sayid, N3rdistan, etc.

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Blitz the Ambassador at Gnaoua Festival. photo credit: Hakim Anthony

How far away is contemporary high life from hip hop? We identify the transformations through migration, collaborations and the African rhythm inspirations that are significant and common in both Blitz and Kyekyeku’s work.

Even the food and fashion affects human connections one way or the other. Kyekyeku documents his experience in Morocco with photos, reflections and texts. “From Marrakech to Essaouira, I have fallen in love with Morrocco; steeped in colourful history, music that actually has offshoots of my forefathers in Gnaoua, clothing that inspired Yves Saint Laurent and food that graces the taste buds;” he says.

Kyekyeku and the “Essaouira massive”
Kyekyeku and the “Essaouira massive”
a camel load of cheers

Kyekyeku shares his personal experiences with us in layers where we find a civilization built over the years out of influence by a mosaic of traditions, a labyrinth of colours, design and oppidan textures aside a spiderweb of the tang of colonization: “In Essaouira, I see a bit of Elmina in my home [country]; Ghana, which means Portugal left an aftertaste here as well. The connections are endless, a complex network that connects us all together from the past through this present and into the future.”

Presently, the artist is in performance and collaborative residency with the collective; Framewalk touring Düsseldorf and Prague and can’t wait to return to Ghana for homemade fufu, the Stanbic Bank Jazz Festival, and preparation for his Europe Tour this summer.

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Author: Kwame 'Write' Aidoo

Kwame Aidoo, also known as Write is a fond reader, writer and lover of music and the arts, with a degree in Biochemistry from Kwame Nkrumah University of Science & Tech., Kumasi and a certificate in Cultural Organizations in Transition from University of Lüneburg. He founded the creative activism movement: Inkfluent which curates Slam Ghana, The Write Experience, Vocal Portraits poetry albums, Slam Lab and the biggest literary festival in Ghana; Nkabom Literary Festival. Aside Ghana, where he is based, he has shown work in Brazil, Togo, Austria, France, Benin, Germany and Burkina Faso and most recently Norway with Aurora Ekvatorialis; a light sculpture and texts collaboration with Norwegian artist Toril Johannessen, exhibiting at the National Museum of Art, Architecture and Design, Oslo, 16.9.2016 – 15.1.2017.

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