Even when hip-hop was just Kool Herc stringing together breakbeats at a Bronx block party, hip-hop was already international—it couldn't have existed without Herc's Jamaican sound system. You can call it an American artform, but it has always had a voracious appetite for any sound it could absorb, building an omnicultural mishmash from the best bits of funk, soul, classic rock, jazz, bhangra and Lord only knows what else.
Where things get really magical, though, is when that multi-culti smorgasbord starts feeding back on itself. Growing up in Ghana, Blitz the Ambassador was blown away by the power of Public Enemy, the force of the Bomb Squad's cut-and-paste production and Chuck D's fiercely political flow. He spent years perfecting his triple-time verses and embracing D's willingness to jeer at a wack planet, honing style into a verbal assault worthy of the word Blitz. But he also embraced the African sounds around him, working his words around Afrobeat grooves that'd make Fela Kuti proud and eschewing samples for the fury of his 12-piece backing band.
Now based out of Brooklyn, Blitz lives up to his diplomatic handle by sharing his spotlight with other international artists—his album Native Sun has guest spots from Rwandan soul singers and Congolese MCs, as well as a shout-out from Chuck D himself. From America to Ghana and back again, this is the real sound of hip hop, echoing, rebounding and reshaping itself into a truly global art form.