Ata Kak’s cassette Obaa Sima fell on deaf ears when it was self-released in Ghana and Canada in 1994. After more than eight years of searching, Awesome Tapes From Africa tracked down the mysterious singer with a cult internet following. On March 3, Obaa Sima will be released on LP, CD, Digital and limited edition cassette, closing the loop on an intertwined story touching on expression, immigration and what happens when a series of chance occurrences add up to life-changing experiences.
The music on the recording—an amalgam of highlife, Twi-language rap, funk, hip-hop and electronica—is presented with the sweaty passion of a Prince record and the lo-fi DIY bedroom recording charm of early Chicago house music. The joyous soul and casual brilliance of the recording led to a draw-out search over three continents, culminating in this remastered release. Featuring rare archival photos and a bonus download of the album’s original slower sound—before it was apparently sped up during duplication—the full story of one of the internet age’s most enigmatic artists finally comes to life.
Ata Kak’s tape was the inaugural post of the blog Awesome Tapes From Africa, when it started in 2006. Founder Brian Shimkovitz came across the cassette at a movable stall in Cape Coast, Ghana in 2002. About 50 copies had been pressed in Ghana and released in 1994 but the recording was forgotten as it did not find success. Shortly after its appearance on ATFA, it developed into an underground obsession among internet music circles. Tribute videos have received more than 100,000 YouTube views. Reposts of the cassette have appeared on dozens of blogs over the years. Remixes have been made and played in clubs from Auckland to Tokyo and Los Angeles to London. Countless musicians have noted Ata Kak as an influence. The story of this remarkable recording continues and Ata Kak, who had no knowledge of his own online popularity, could not be more thrilled that his music found fans years later, miles away.