During the 1970’s, subcultures of New York City was permeated in gang culture, the biggest of the gangs was named ‘Young Spades’ and one of the most prominent members was Kevin Donavan. When his best friend was killed by police due to gang violence, Kevin wisely decided to choose a new outlet in life.
Kevin he was exposed to music through his mother’s vast record collection and his felt that music was also a good way to prevent his community from getting involved in crimes. He began to inspired many youngsters to choose music over violence through this genre later to be called “Hip Hop”.
Deeply moved by the movie ‘Zulu’, Kevin traveled to Africa, where he encountered a tribal chief by name ‘Bhambhatha’. He became enthralled by both, the nation, as well as this tribal chief, which made him change his name to Afrika Bambaataa.
Afrika Bambaataa became of hip-hop culture’s most influential pioneers.
Bambaataa began throwing parties around the neighborhood, His style of music was liked by many, playing music of every musical genre to establish hip-hop as an aesthetic form based on juxtaposition and appropriation. He heavily embraced Techno Pop and the Yellow Magic Orchestra from Japan, as well as Kraftwerk from Germany. soon he was in demand at various social gatherings. Bambaataa’s following grew rapidly and his recognition as the borough’s preeminent DJ became widespread.
Bambaataa didn’t just confine his talent to party places but also stood up for social and political causes. He formed ‘Universal Zulu Nation’ during this period which comprised of many artists who wanted to bring a social change through music.
Bambaataa relegated the four elements of hip-hop as rapping, DJing, breakdancing and graffiti, giving the varied movements of late seventies inner-city youths in New York City a definitive coherence. Bambaataa linked conflicting theories into a cultural mixture that promoted positivity and community, providing a strong social conscience to an African American art form often mislabeled as negative.
In 1980s Bambaataa came to be known as one of the best musicians in The Bronx, and came to be known as the ‘Master of Records’. He formed two rap crews during this period – ‘Jazzy 5’ and ‘Soulsonic Force’.
Afrika Bambaataa and the ‘Soulsonic Force’ released of the single ‘Planet Rock’ which went on to become a chartbuster, and Bambaataa was showered with praise by music lovers world-wide. Two years later this team went on to release albums named ‘Looking for the Perfect Grenade’ and ‘Renegades of Funk’.
Bambaataa pioneered the musical genre Electro Funk incorporating the rich culture of the South Bronx which is now called “Hip-Hop”, the pure funk sound of Parliament Funkadelic, George Clinton and Sly Stone with a touch of electronic music from Yellow Magic Orchestra, and German sounds from Kraftwerk. This musical mashup called Electro Funk was the critically acclaimed song Planet Rock, which he recorded with The Soul Sonic Force, and is still revolutionary til today.
Universal Zulu Nation brought together Hip Hop’s elements of peace, unity, love and having fun.
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