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Afrika Bambaataa

From Academic Kids

Afrika Bambaataa (born April 10, 1960) is a DJ and community leader from the South Bronx, who in the late 1970s, was instrumental in the early development of hip hop.

Afrika Bambaataa was born as Kevin Donovan in Bronx, New York. During his early years, he was a founding member of the Bronxdale Projects-area street gang, The Savage Seven. Due to the explosive growth of the gang, it later became known as the Black Spades, and Donovan rose to the position of Division Leader. After a life-changing visit to Africa, he changed his name to Afrika Bambaataa Aasim. Bambaataa was influenced by the bravery of the Zulu warriors resisting British troops in the Michael Caine film Zulu. He took his name, which roughly translated to "affectionate leader", from the film.

After the visit, Bambaataa decided to use his leadership to turn those involved in the gang life into something more positive to the community. This began the development of The Organization, which soon later became known as the Zulu Nation, a group of racially and politically aware rappers, B-boys, graffiti artists and other people involved in hip hop culture that gained fame in the early eighties to mid nineties. By 1977, inspired by DJ Kool Herc, Bambaataa had begun organizing block parties all around the South Bronx, and he was soon renowned as one of the best DJs in the business. In 1980, he produced Soul Sonic Force's landmark single, "Zulu Nation Throwdown". In 2000 Rage Against The Machine covered Afrika's song Renegades of Funk for their album "Renegades".

In 1982, Bambaataa organised the very first European hip hop tour. Along with himself were rapper and graf artist Rammellzee, Zulu Nation DJ Grand Mixer DST, B-boy and B-girl crews the Rock Steady Crew, and the Double Dutch Girls, as well as legendary graffiti artists Fab 5 Freddy, Phase 2, Futura 2000, and Dondi.

Also in 1982, Bambaataa became a solo artist (having produced several other singles) and released "Jazzy Sensation" on Tommy Boy Records in that year. "Planet Rock", a popular single, came out that June. The song melded electronic hip hop beats with the main melody from Kraftwerk's Trans-Europe Express, as well as portions from records by Ennio Morricone and Captain Sky - thus creating a new style of music altogether, electro funk. It influenced many styles of electronic and dance music, e.g. house music and techno music. In 1984, Bambaataa recorded "Unity" with James Brown and released "World Destruction" under the name Time Zone (with John Lydon). Shango Funk Theology, a full length album, came out under the name Shango. This was followed by "Funk You" in 1985 and then his formal full album debut, Beware (The Funk Is Everywhere).

Bambaataa then left Tommy Boy and signed with Capitol Records, released The Light (as Afrika Bambaataa & the Family), which included aid from George Clinton, Bootsy Collins, Boy George and UB40. 1990-2000: Decade of Darkness was released in 1991. It included both hip house tracks that were produced by the Italian team De Point (most of those have been collected on ZYX record's "The 12" Mixes" Compilation) as well as hip hop and electro funk tracks. On "Warlocks and Witches", Bam (as his name is often abbreviated) focused on hip hop. From the mid-1990s, Bam returned to his electro roots, collaborating with Westbam (who was named after him) and culminating in 2004's excellent album "Dark Matter Moving at the Speed of Light" which featured Gary Numan and many others.

Afrika Bambaataa Discography
Year Title Label
1986 Planet Rock - The Album Tommy Boy Records
1986 Beware (The Funk Is Everywhere) Tommy Boy Records
1987 Death Mix Throwdown Blatant
1988 The Light EMI America
1991 The Decade of Darkness 1990-2000 EMI Records USA
1992 Don't Stop... Planet Rock (The Remix EP) Tommy Boy (EP)
1993 Zulu War Chant Profile (12")
1993 What's the Name of this Nation?... Zulu Profile (12")
1994 Feel the Vibe DFC (12") (with Khayan)
1996 Jazzin' by Khayan ZYX
1996 Lost Generation Hot
1996 Warlocks and Witches, Computer Chips, Microchips and You Profile
1997 Zulu Groove Hudson Vandam (Compilation)
1998 Agharta - The City of Shamballa Low Spirit (12") (with Westbam)
1999 Electro Funk Breakdown DMC
1999 Return to Planet Rock Berger Music
2000 Hydraulic Funk Strictly Hype
2001 Electro Funk Breakdown DMX (Compilation)
2001 Looking for the Perfect Beat: 1980-1985 Tommy Boy(Compilation)
2004 Dark Matter Moving at the Speed of Light Tommy Boy

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