His tremendous impact, influence, popularity, and recognition have earned him the respect and fame to be amongst the giants of the music industry. Most notably, in a career of over 30 years, Bambaata revolutionized Hip Hop more than any other person and greatly influenced the electronic/dance worlds and helped substantiate a culture that still affects us today.
Afrika Bambaataa – Born Kevin Donovan
- Born : South Bronx, New York
- Date of Birth : April 10, 1960
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During his early years, Bam took a musical interest in its many forms, playing the trumpet and the piano at his high school before he became warlord of one of the most feared gangs of New York-the Black Spades. However, by 1976, he began to be influenced by the
DJ styles of Kool DJ Dee and Kool DJ Herc and expanded his music interests through records of various genres, from rock to R&B, from mainstream to underground.
Switching his life around after seeing what violence was doing to his community, Bam transformed most of The Black Spades into The Bronx River Organization, a performing group. Sometime during the
existence of this group, he saw the film Zulu which depicted the battle between British troops and the Zulu tribe, one of the most powerful and sophisticated states in Africa. Deeply inspired, he changed The Bronx River Organization into the Zulu Nation and named himself Afrika Bambaataa (meaning “affectionate leader”) Aasim in honor of the 19th century Zulu chief. He then adopted the Zulu Nations’ principles of unity and peace and mixed it with the Hip Hop lifestyle. Gangmembers became b-boys, rappers, and graffiti/aerosol writers, and violence was averted through knowledge, unity, and peace. Soon, Bam and his Zulu Nation reached out to their community in a positive light and began to help the youth through various progams. From there, Bam was influential in showing gangsters a life outside of the hood and gave them hope, all the while fostering Hip Hop’s growth and teaching his community the Hip Hopway of life.
Afrika Bambaataa had become a famous DJ in the Bronx by 1977, organizing and promoting large block parties and b-boy competitions. With his unique talents and innovative DJ skills, he became HIP HOP’S FOREMOST DJ and eventually gained the title THE BEST DJ IN THE BUSINESS. His record collection consisted an amalgam of music besides Hip Hop-from disco to classical, soca, rock, reggae, funk, go-go, salsa, and jazz, just to name a few which earned him the title MASTER OF RECORDS.
In 1980, the singles “Zulu Nation Throwdown” and “Death Mix” were released under Paul Winley records, the start of Bam’s recording career. The following year, he released his first solo single “Jazzy Sensation”, which became a moderate but influential hit, and soon the 1982 seminal smash “Planet Rock”. After the success of “Planet Rock”, Afrika Bambaataa recorded another seminal electro-funk tune (a part of Hip Hop music), “Looking For the Perfect Beat”, as well as the hits “Renegades of Funk” and “Frantic Situation”. Soon, he began to concentrate more on fusion, collaborating with artists inside and outside his musical circle, the biggest of them being James Brown in “Unity”, and recording under/with the names Time Zone and Shango. However, by the late 80s, Afrika Bambaataa seemed to move to the background with moderate hits and seemed to be focused on giving his Zulu Nation collective the chance to shine. In this Zulu Nation collective included important and influential Hip Hop artists such as Queen Latifah, De La Soul, A Tribe Called Quest, and The Jungle Brothers, artists many consider “progressive” or “alternative” Hip Hop.