Welcome to Selections – our weekly series where we offer artists we love carte blanche to create a Spotify playlist. Reliable – but unpredictable – Monday listening from those who know
This week it’s the turn of the much-mythologised Ghanian artist Yaw Atta-Owusu, aka Ata Kak. The musician behind Obaa Sim – a tape that blended hip-hop with a kind of electronic take on highlife – the release was doomed to obscurity. That is, until Awesome Tapes from Africa’s Brian Shimkowitz rediscovered the 90s anomaly at a stall in Cape Coast. The discovery provided the impetus behind the Awesome Tapes from Africa blog – a feat in itself – it also set Shimkowitz off on a global quest to find Atta-Owusu.
A quest that was eventually successful: in 2015 Shimkowitz re-released the album, catapulting Ata Kak from obscurity to a new, global audience. Something Ata Kak has wholeheartedly embraced.
Ata Kak’s Selections offers a glimpse into his listening habits and influences which, unsurprisingly, are broad. From the Bee Gees and Michael Jackson to highlife star Nana Kwame Ampadu and Afrobeat pioneer Fela Kuti, the colourful strokes used help paint a portrait of the kind of artist that might create something as strange and vital Obaa Sim and offer a kind of further listening to complement the artist’s incredible story.