A Ghanaian highlife singer, Ata Kak is a visionary. He spits serious rhymes, waxes romantic, and his home-made, funky yet spooky recordings boast lo-fi digital magic like a warped Prince protege from Africa.
Plucked from obscurity, Ata Kak’s rediscovered 1994 cassette Obaa Sima kick-started the Awesome Tapes From Africa phenomenon and he now enjoys a rabid following and tours the world.
Ata Kak’s Obaa Sima cassette fell on deaf ears when it was first self-released in Ghana in 1994 but 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 his Awesome Tapes from Africa blog, writing 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 a party-starter the world over. After more than a decade of searching Brian finally tracked down the singer, released the LP officially in 2015, and Ata Kak now enjoys a rabid following and tours the world.
Don’t miss a chance to see him live in Amherst. The Planetary Party is a monthly series featuring dance music from everywhere. For this edition, DJ Quils spins exquisite underground vinyl before, between, and after.