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Blast From the Past: Simigwa Flow

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Get Acquainted with the Simigwa Flow

Two things remain constant: change and the power of music. Music is one magical language that transcends race, class, gender, status and every other boundary. Throughout history, music has been presented in different genres and styles, serving different purposes and evoking different feelings and emotions within listeners. However, not all songs outlive their era or generation. Blast from the Past has been curated to celebrate Africa-Diasporan songs that will forever be immortalized. This week we explore an innovative sound cultivated by a revolutionary mind.

Trendsetter, creative, and visionary are all adjectives that can be used to describe the man known as Gyedu-Blay Ambolley. With a career spanning over five decades, Ambolley is a notable Ghanaian highlife musician, multi-instrumentalistsongwriter, producer, and composer. Hailing from Sekondi located in Ghana’s western region, Ambolley redefined the sound of highlife, afro-jazz, afro-funk with his unique style of music he branded Simigwa. Simigwa translates to “I am sitting,” which refers to a King’s throne.

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Ambolley kick-started his musical journey with his presence as an instrumentalist and vocalist in bands such as Tricky Johnson’s Sextet, Railway Dance Band, The Meridians, Apagya Show Band and the Uhuru Dance Band. Influenced by artists such as James Brown, Ella Fitzgerald, Billie Eckstine, Sammy Lartey and Ebo Taylor, Ambolley cultivate a brand and genre that would revolutionize the sound of highlife, afrobeat, and funk in Ghana.

Ambolley sound can be described as an eclectic blend of soul, funk, afrobeat, highlife, rap, and jazz. Cultivated in a time where highlife reigned, Blay wooed consumers with his originality and versatile take on the sound of that era.

Around 1973, Blay released his breakthrough hit entitled “Simigwa-Do,” which was dubbed the first recorded commercial rap song from Africa and possibly within the world. From there, Blay released his first LP,”Simigwa,” which provided a blend of soulful highlife rhythms infused with funk and jazz elements. This LP solidified  Ambolley  as a major force within the Afro-funk, Highlife and Hiplife genre.

This week we venture into the realm of Simigwa as we celebrate the catalogue of Gyedu Blay Ambolley.We have compiled some of the greatest songs released throughout the career of this notable figure within Ghanaian Music.The category is “Simigwa Do Funk.”

Apagya Show Band – Mumudey

Apagya means “a spark of fire”. Apagya Show Band was a Ghanaian music group  arranged by Ebo Taylor within the 60’s. The Apagya Band members consisted of Ernest Honny, Bob Pinodo, Ebo Dadson, Gyedu Blay-Ambolley, and Ebo Taylor. 

Mumudey is a vibrant song that is bound to make you dance and bust a move. This sound is a unique fusion of jazz, funk, and highlife. This song features Gyedu Blay-Ambolley as the lead vocalist. A rendition of this track was featured on Ebo Taylor’s 2018 album entitled “Yen Ara”

Simigwa-Do

Simigwa Do captures the essence of funk. Filled with rhythmic instruments, such as horns, electric guitar, bass guitar, drums, and keyboard, Simigwa Do will leave you funkified. Gyedu Blay Ambolley shines with his signature style of rap and flows. Simigwa Do translates to “I am sitting on my seat,” which refers to a King’s throne.

Simi Rapp

Simi Rapp is a classic song within Blay’s catalogue. This nostalgic track was a prototype for hiplife music within Ghana. Featuring a mix of highlife, jazz, and funk, Ambolley created a masterpiece that is often disputed to be one of the first recorded rap songs in the world. Ambolley lays down fun yet whimsical bars that capture the groove of hiplife music. In 2010, a group named Replay sampled this classic song and featured Gyedu-Blay Ambolley on the track. 

Teacher

Teacher is a dynamic highlife tune packed with jazz melodies. This song aims to teach and advise. With simple and direct lyrics, Gyedu Blay Ambolley tells a tale about the importance of learning from the people around you. Understand that anyone can be a teacher based on their expertise and understanding of what they do.

Black Woman

Black Woman is a track off the album, “11th Street,Sekondi.” Black Woman speaks to the insecurities of Black women within society. Ambolley couples a soulful highlife beat with a medley of words that resonate with the Black woman’s plight in society. 

Adwoa Ammisah

First released in 1986, Adwoa Ammisah is a song that details an encounter with a woman named Adowa Ammisah. In 2013, a remake of this song was featured on Ambolley’s “The Next Generation Album.”

Abrentsie

Reflective of the antics within the youth, Ambolley delivers a solid highlife tune infused with the Simigwa flow. Abretsie is a danceable and catchy song portraying the carefree spirit of our youth. 

 Poor Mans Life

Struggle is a relatable experience for everyone. Ambolley touches on the topic of financial struggle in this song titled ” Poor Man Life.” Composed in English, Ambolley recalls the struggle of having no money yet wearing the title of a provider. 

Bon Adooso

A standout in Gyedu Blay Ambolley’s extensive discography, “Bon Adooso” is a groovy gospel tune praising God. Ambolley opens the track by speaking praises to the Almighty before depicting the troubles we are facing on earth. 

In recent times, Ambolley continues to impact and shape the course of music in Ghana. By partnering and featuring with artists like Kelvyn Boy, Fokn Bois and Replay within the new school, Ambolley continues to add to his legacy. Take the time out of your day to explore the extensive discography of this living day legend.

“But musically, all of us are musicians. We’ve evolved into music. I think experimentations are very, very important, because wherever you came from, you have your own form of music that belongs to you. Aside from that there are other forms of music everywhere, somewhere.”

– Gyedu-Blay Ambolley, Red Bull Music Academy

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