Robert Christgau: Dean of American Rock Critics

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Ata Kak

  • Obaa Sima [Awesome Tapes From Africa, 2015] A-

Consumer Guide Reviews:

Obaa Sima [Awesome Tapes From Africa, 2015]
Collectorama in extremis: seven-track, 35-minute album recorded circa 1993 in Toronto by Ghanaian emigre Yaw Atta-Owuso and then mastered back home where costs were cheaper. Some 50 cassettes were manufactured. of which an estimated three were sold. The only playable one known to survive was purchased from a Ghanaian roadside vendor in 2002 by Brian Shimkovitz, who began Awesome Tapes From Africa so he could release it. And Shimkovitz obviously has better ears than most collectors, because his pet rarity is infectious, charming, and idiosyncratically stripped-down. Credit not its preset beats but the bright tune sense and chipper singing and rapping of Atta-Owuso and the female chorus he had the sense to enlist. Atta-Owuso had no inkling that hiplife tyros in Accra were doing something similar--his Westernized Afropop is pure self-expression. Because no one heard it but his posse, it says nothing about the cultures that produced it but a lot about the musician who felt compelled to put it on tape--a lively, focused, friendly guy unlike any other you can bring to mind. A-