Ata Kak is the Ghanaian electronic/rap/highlife icon who kick-started the Awesome Tapes From Africa phenomenon. After a long wait, he is finally embarking on his first ever tour of the US.
Ata Kak’s Obaa Sima cassette was first self-released in Ghana in 1994 to little recognition or interest. Yet when American musicologist Brian Shimkovitz stumbled upon the tape at a street stall in Cape Coast, Ghana eight years later, it became the stimulus for him to launch the Awesome Tapes from Africa blog. As he wrote in his inaugural post: “This is it. The song is called ‘Moma Yendodo.’ You may never hear anything like this elsewhere. No one I know in Ghana listens to this frenetic leftfield rap madness.”
The music on the recording—an amalgam of highlife, Twi language rap, funk, hip-hop, and electronica—traverses a pop music landscape that encapsulates international modes while reflecting contemporary Ghanaian music of the period. Presented with the sweaty passion of a Prince record and the lo-fi recording charm of early Chicago house music, Obaa Sima‘s joyous soul and casual brilliance made the enigmatic Ata Kak an underground internet sensation and party-starter the world over. After more than a
decade of searching, Brian finally tracked down the singer and released the LP officially in March 2015.
“Its positive shine, relentless energy, and alien earworm choruses feel like a portal to an alternate reality, where the sounds of South Africa’s Shangaan electro, Mali’s Balani Show, Syria’s dabke, British grime, and Portuguese kuduro all sweat together.” – FACT Magazine