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Listen to Ata Kak's Long-Lost Afro-House Classic, 'Obaa Sima'

A chance discovery in an African market led to the reissue of this lost classic.

by Rod Glacial
Mar 1 2015, 5:00pm

This article originally appeared on Noisey France.

Brian Shimkovitz is an African music and cassette collector, and in 2011, after several stays in Ghana and returned to New York, he founded a label called Awesome Tapes From Africa (which follows his blog of the same name created in 2006). By now, he has released over a dozen albums' worth of the local Afro-pop disco sound that was born in Ghana in the early 20th century.

Ata Kak Yaw Atta-Owusu was born in 1960 in Kumasi. He moved to Toronto in 1989, where he played in a band called Marijata (not to be confused with the 70s band of the same name). They released three albums, which allowed Yaw the opportunity to refine his skills in music, and eventually encouraged him to strike out on his own. By 1991, he began to record his own songs using the software Notator Atari, a synthesizer, and a secondhand 12-track recorder. In 1994, he released fifty copies of his work on tape (manufactured in Ghana to reduce costs). He sold three.

In 2002, during a trip to Cape Coast, Brian Shimkovitz came upon one of those very cassettes in a city market. Fascinated by this condensed chunk of African hip-house, the discovery led him to dig this rich, hitherto unexplored scene unexplored, which led to the blog and then his label. And it was that tape, one of the only existing copies of the album, which is the basis for the new remastered edition of Obaa Sima.

Obaa Sima will be released internationally and for the first time on CD and LP on March 2 (distributed by Differ-Ant in France). Listen to the entire album below (but take note, the stream will be only be available for one week).

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