In 2002, Brian Shimkovitz bought an old cassette from a roadside stall in Cape Coast, Ghana.
What he discovered was something wonderful. A wild mix of afro-house, proto hip hop and Ghanaian Highlife spun together with such unique charisma that it inspired Brian to found the inimitable Awesome Tapes from Africa label.
Wanting to find out more about Ata Kak, the artist behind the tape, Brian began an exhaustive investigation to find the man behind that rad pair of shades. After a seemingly endless string of google searches, and un-answered phone calls, there were still zero clues among Ghanaian friends, acquaintances and music industry professionals, who had never heard of Ata Kak.
Eventually, Brian was able to track the man down. He learned that Yaw Atta-Owusu born in 1960 in Ghana had recorded the tape in his Toronto Apartment after having moved there in 1989 using mostly second-hand equipment: a computer with Atari Notator software; a new synthesizer with built-in drum sounds; a reel-to-reel recorder; a 12-channel mixer.
Upon the record’s completion, Ata could not afford to release the record in Canada, so he had a small run of 50 cassettes made and distributed in Ghana in 1994 with the intention of gauging interest in the record overseas. Unfortunately, DJs wanted cash to play it. He couldn’t invest in promoting it further. Atta never once played it for anyone in Ghana and has never heard anyone talk about it. He believes approximately 3 copies were sold and the rest were scattered among family and friends in Ghana and Canada. A group of friends in Toronto for whom he played it loved the recording, but it didn't make an impact in Ghana.