Digging 4 Gold

First Rapper Ever?


Gyedu-Blay Ambolley released the full-length LP, Simgwa, in 1973 on the heels of his breakthrough-hit single, “Simigwado” with the steneboofs.

The album’s a perfect example of the overwhelming western influence that existed in Ghanaian pop music at the time.   The instrumentation is part James Brown, part Motown, carried by Ambolley’s baritone voice, which switches from mellow crooning to frantic outcries at a moment’s notice.  Without question, the album certified him as a bona fide soul man and catapulted him as one of Ghana’s national stars.

Interestingly enough, as of late he’s made efforts to gain recognition as the first rapper ever, based upon his call-and-response adlibs during the percussive breakdowns on “Simigwado”.  He’s convinced of the fact and has begun a campaign within Ghana to become officially recognized as the originator of rapping.

Here’s an excerpt of my interview with him, which has him calling out the Sugarhill Gang as well as explaining why young girls remind him of donuts: