Ata Kak / Linn da Quebrada / Borokov Borokov
Fri 28.0920:00 - 23:30BALZAALPast event
Those who were in attendance two years ago are still talking about the comeback show of Ghanaian cult legend Ata Kak in a sold-out Balzaal, at which an elated audience sang along to his hits in phonetic Twi. The road to get here was long for frontman Yaw Atta-Owusu; from an obscure cassette tape released in 1994, to his rediscovery by the blog Awesome Tapes From Africa, to finally touring the globe, performing in packed venues.
The mysterious tape in question was his debut record ‘Obaa Sima’, an intriguing bouillabaisse of Ghanese highlife, out-of-this-world rap, retro-futuristic grime and ghetto house. The unlikely story of Ata Kak begins here.
The year is 1994. In a small Ghanaian grocery store, 50 cassettes of ‘Obaa Sima’ are sold, and become the only remaining trace of Ata Kak’s recording. Fast-forward to 2006. Musicologist Brian Shimkowitz, founder of the music blog Awesome Tapes from Africa, manages to get his hands on a copy during his travels in Africa. He is immediately blown away by the record’s infectious rhythms and hyperkinetic dancefloor optimism. Shimkowitz posts a track from ‘Obaa Sima’ and the track is streamed and downloaded countless times. Yet the artist remains shrouded in mystery. After a lot of dead ends, Shimkowitz finally tracks down our man – real name: Yaw Atta Owusu. Turns out he didn’t receive the memo that he had achieved cult status in the intervening period. In 2015 the record is finally reissued, generating wide interest and acclaim. Ata Kak embarks on his first European tour in 2016, leaving delighted summer festival crowds in his wake at Sonar, Primavera and Flow Festival, among others.
“Its positive shine, relentless energy, and alien earworm choruses feel like a portal to an alternate reality, where the sounds of South Africa’s Shangaan electro, Mali’s Balani Show, Syria’s dabke, British grime, and Portuguese kuduro all sweat together.”
Linn Da Quebrada
We’ll open the evening with the delightfully disturbed foursome Borokov Borokov, the brainchild of Arne Omloop, Boris Van den Eynden (Laat Maar, CUNTST), Noah Melis (Shy Dog, Pascale Deweze) and Yorgos Tsakiridis (King Dick). The four grew up in the affluent Noorderkempen area of Antwerp and started making music around 2004 in the shadow of Wijnegem Shopping Centre. In 2017 they completed their debut album ‘Eerlijk Delen’, which will be released by the Antwerp-based Rotkat Records. Contrary to what the group name – a cocktail of only two identical ingredients – suggests, Borokov Borokov’s ‘Nether-tronic’ music is a mix of many different genres, including Hi-NRG, punk, global pop, hardcore, lounge music and cabaret. It’s probably no coincidence that such a varied assortment evokes the vaguely indeterminate experience of a trip to the shopping centre. In this sense, BB is exemplary of an ambivalent early-twenty-first-century sub-Zeitgeist – something also attested to by the wordplay in their song texts: “Dansende Mensen” / “Dansen de Mensen?”