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 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. He then went on to enjoy a solid solo career.
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