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Afrika Bambaataa

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Bio

A seminal Bronx DJ during the 1970s, Afrika Bambaataa ascended to godfather status with Planet Rock, the 1982 hip-hop classic which blended the beats of hip-hop with techno-pop futurism inspired by German pioneers Kraftwerk. Even before he began recording in 1980, Bambaataa was hip-hop's foremost DJ, an organizer and promoter of the large block parties during the mid- to late '70s which presaged the rise of rap. After the success of Planet Rock, he recorded electro-oriented rap only sparingly, concentrating instead on fusion -- exemplified by his singles with ex-Sex Pistol John Lydon and fellow godfather James Brown. Bambaataa had moved to the background by the late '80s (as far as hip-hop was concerned), but the rise of his Zulu Nation collective -- including De La Soul, Queen Latifah, A Tribe Called Quest, and the Jungle Brothers -- found him once more being tipped as one of rap's founding fathers. Born in the Bronx on April 17, 1957, Afrika Bambaataa Aasim took his name from a 19th century Zulu chief. Beginning in 1977, Bambaataa began organizing block parties and breakdancing competitions around the Bronx. His excellent turntable techniques and knowledge of music led many to proclaim him the best DJ in the business (though Grandmaster Flash and DJ Kool Herc were more innovative), and his record debut -- as a producer -- came in 1980 with Soul Sonic Force's "Zulu Nation Throwdown." The single was a rallying cry for the Zulu Nation, a group of like-minded Afrocentric musicians that only gained fame in the late '80s but had been influencing the rise of hip-hop crews since the late '70s. Aside from more production credits on several later singles during 1980-1981, Afrika Bambaataa didn't become an actual recording artist until 1982. He signed with Tommy Boy records and released his first single, "Jazzy Sensation," early that year. "Planet Rock" followed in June and quickly exploded. Recorded with the help of producer/dancefloor authority Arthur Baker and assimilating the melody of Kraftwerk's "Trans-Europe Express," the single hit number four on the R&B charts (but missed the pop Top 40) and joined the Sugarhill Gang's "Rapper's Delight" as one of the early classics of hip-hop. (Grandmaster Flash's "The Message" followed just three months later.) In the single's wake came dozens of electro groups and recordings, though none touched the quality of "Planet Rock" -- except, perhaps, Bambaataa's own follow-up, "Looking for the Perfect Beat." Out of those electro groups came several predominant dance styles of the 1980s and '90s: Detroit techno, Miami bass, and, to a more limited extent, Chicago house. Freed somewhat by his new-found popularity, Afrika Bambaataa began branching out in 1984, recording "Unity" with help from James Brown and "World Destruction" with John Lydon (as Time Zone). That same year, Bambaataa delivered an album debut of sorts, Shango Funk Theology, recorded as Shango with Material personnel Bill Laswell and Michael Beinhorn. A virtually LP-length single titled "Funk You!" appeared in 1985, after which Bambaataa recorded his proper album debut, Beware (The Funk Is Everywhere). He left Tommy Boy in 1986 after an album compilation of "Planet Rock" mixes, and signed with Capitol. The first album release for the label was 1988's The Light, recorded as Afrika Bambaataa & the Family, which included contributions from George Clinton, UB40, Bootsy Collins, and Boy George. Three years later, Bambaataa's third album, 1990-2000: Decade of Darkness, was released on Capitol, coinciding with his career retrospective Time Zone, released on his own Planet Rock Records. Bambaataa recorded erratically during the '90s, but returned to the mainstream in 1997 with Zulu Groove. The new millennium brought the release of Hydraulic Funk on Strictly Hype, and Electro Funk Breakdown followed in early 2001. ~ John Bush
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Albums by
Afrika Bambaataa

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    10 songs

    On Air

    Planet Rock: The Dance Album

    18 songs

    On Air

    Dark Matter Moving at the Speed of Light

    3 songs

    On Air

    Pupunanny - Get Far Remix

    9 songs

    On Air

    Beware (The Funk Is Everywhere)

    6 songs

    On Air

    Vibe & Metal

    3 songs

    On Air

    B More Shake

    5 songs

    On Air

    Rhino Hi-Five: Afrika Bambaataa

    4 songs

    On Air

    Just Get Up and Dance [5 Tracks]

    5 songs

    On Air

    Pupunanny [ZYX #1]

    1 song

    On Air

    Just Get Up and Dance (Ringtone)

    1 song

    On Air

    Pupunanny (Ringtone)

    4 songs

    On Air

    Metal

    2 songs

    On Air

    Planet Rock

    3 songs

    On Air

    Planet Rock

    12 songs

    On Air

    Looking for the Perfect Beat: 1980-1985

    8 songs

    On Air

    Zulu Groove

    1 song

    On Air

    B More Shake

    12 songs

    On Air

    Hydraulic Funk

    13 songs

    On Air

    Jazzin' by Khayan: The New World Power

    6 songs

    On Air

    Death Mix Live!!!

    13 songs

    On Air

    The Light

    35 songs

    On Air

    Eastside

    11 songs

    On Air

    Death Mix: The Best of Paul Winley Records

    4 songs

    On Air

    Just Get up and Dance [4 Tracks]

See All Albums

Top Songs by
Afrika Bambaataa

  1.   Song
    Popularity
  2.   Planet Rock
  3.   Looking for the Perfect Beat
  4.   Renegades of Funk
  5.   Jazzy Sensation
  6.   Don't Stop...Planet Rock
  7.   Don't Stop...Planet Rock
  8.   Don't Stop...Planet Rock by Soul Sonic Force
  9.   Planet Rock by Afrika Bambaataa & the Soulsonic Force
  10.   Don't Stop...Planet Rock
  11.   Planet Rock '96
  12.   Funk You
  13.   Don't Stop...Planet Rock
  14.   Plummer's in the House
  15.   Afrika Bambaataa Speaks Again (Interlude)
  16.   Electro Salsa
  17.   [Untitled Hidden Track]
  18.   Pupananny
  19.   Death Mix, Pt. 1
  20.   Bambaataa's Theme by Afrika Bambaataa & Family
  21.   Frantic Situation
  22.   Do You Remember The 60's?
  23.   Don't Stop..Planet Rock
  24.   Vibe
  25.   Ain't Takin No Shhh
  26. See All Songs

Stations & Shows Featuring
Afrika Bambaataa

    On Air

    Classic Hip Hop A-Z

    On Air

    Old School Rap

    On Air

    55 Best Ideas In Music History

    On Air

    Masters Of Hip Hop

    On Air

    66 Songs That Changed Everything

    On Air

    66 Songs That Changed The '80s

    On Air

    Adam ‘MCA’ Yauch Tribute

    On Air

    Funk

    On Air

    N.W.A.: DNA

    On Air

    Beastie Boys: DNA

    On Air

    SVP & Russillo Music Show

    On Air

    Chicano Old School

    On Air

    Disco Deep Dive

    On Air

    The Current


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