Africa Bambaataa

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Afrika Bambaataa (left) in Tokyo (2004)
Afrika Bambaataa (left) in Tokyo (2004)
Chart positions
Explanation of the data
Planet Rock (with The Soul Sonic Force)
  UK 53 08/28/1982 (5 weeks)
  US 48 07/17/1982 (11 weeks)
Looking for the perfect beat
  UK 86 02/19/1983 (5 weeks)
The Renegades of Funk (with The Soul Sonic Force)
  UK 30th 03/10/1984 (7 weeks)
Unity (with James Brown )
  UK 49 09/01/1984 (5 weeks)
Frantic situation
  UK 89 10/20/1984 (3 weeks)
Reckless (feat. UB40 )
  UK 17th 02/20/1988 (9 weeks)
So nuff funky
  UK 99 May 14, 1988 (1 week)
Just get up and dance
  UK 45 10/12/1991 (3 weeks)
Pupunanny - The Mixes
  UK 78 07/15/1995 (2 weeks)
Got to Get Up (vs Carpe Diem)
  UK 22nd 10/17/1998 (4 weeks)
Agharta - The City of Shamballa (with Westbam )
  DE 60 11/09/1998 (6 weeks)
  UK 92 07/03/1999 (1 week)
Afrika Shox (feat. Leftfield )
  UK 7th 09/18/1999 (7 weeks)
Planet Rock (with Paul Oakenfold )
  UK 47 08/25/2001 (2 weeks)
D-functional (feat.Mekon)
  UK 72 03/13/2004 (1 week)
TelLieVision (with Hardy Hard as Sirius B )
  DE 96 07/05/2004 (1 week)

Afrika Bambaataa (* 17th April 1957 in the Bronx , New York City ; bourgeois Lance Taylor ) is an active since the 1970s New York hip-hop - DJ and founder of the worldwide organization " Zulu Nation ". He was also a party organizer in the late 1970s and early 1980s. He is one of the style-defining figures of the early days in hip-hop , which is not the only genre in which he is musically active. His exact date of birth is as secret as his real name. The most common dates of birth given are April 10 or October 4, 1960, other information refers to the year 1957. According to his own statement in various interviews, his official name is "Afrika Bambaataa". The media mostly give Kevin Donovan as his real name, but Bambaataa asserts in interviews that this is another member of his former gang "Black Spades". Its origin is the New York Bronx.


He achieved worldwide renown in the early 1980s through various singles, including the 1982 international hit and early hip-hop classic, Planet Rock , which is based on the melody of Kraftwerk's Trans-Europe Express and the beat of Kraftwerk's numbers . Planet Rock is the founding of Electro Funk and has a huge influence on house and other dance styles. Bambaataa is nicknamed "Master of Records" because of its particularly wide range of musical tastes and a corresponding record collection. However, his interests are not only musical, he is involved with well-known musicians and members of the Zulu nation against apartheid , war and environmental pollution, among other things . Through his internal work in Hip-Hop, he came up with the title “ Godfather of Hip Hop ” (German: “Pate des Hip Hop”).


Bambaataa mediates between the musical worlds; he works with the early dancehall star Yellowman , UB40 , Johnny Rotten of the Sex Pistols , James Brown , Leftfield , Gary Numan and the Italian house producer DePoint. His bands Planet Patrol , Soulsonic Force and Cosmic Force are also known through Afrika Bambaataa's success . He brings out records under the names Time Zone, Shango , Hydraulic Funk , Khayan and Sirius B (together with DJ Hardy Hard ). In 1998 he worked with WestBam under the name IFO (Identified Flying Objects) . In 2004 his project " The Machine " premiered.

Afrika Bambaataa is mainly associated with hip-hop , but as the names above suggest, he refuses to limit himself to musical genres. He always surprises with productions that are more likely to be assigned to the genres of techno , rock , funk or reggae . The subjects of his texts are very varied and range from inconsequential party events to very clear and profound socially critical and political statements. The list of recording companies , which he changes frequently in order to be able to experiment better musically and to remain independent , reads just as differently .

Africa Bambaataa and the Zulu Nation

"Universal Zulu Nation"

In addition to his musical activities, Bambaataa is best known as the founder and spiritual mastermind of the Zulu Nation : an internationally active collective of b-boys , DJs, graffiti artists and rappers, including various hip-hop greats such as De La Soul , Queen Latifah , A Tribe Called Quest and the Jungle Brothers .

The basic idea for this has Bambaataa at a young age when he the film Zulu of Michael Caine sees. Impressed by the victory of the Zulu , he got the idea of ​​founding his own Zulu nation. Later he gave himself the name "Afrika Bambaataa" (Bambaataa means something like "loving leader" according to various websites). The musical greats of this time, above all Sly & The Family Stone , George Clinton and James Brown, had a great and formative influence on him .

Afrika Bambaataa grew up in the New York Bronx in the 1960s. He is an active member of the then most important gang in the Bronx, the Black Spades . He himself says about this time that these organizations played an important role for the black population in particular, as they were also interested and committed to socio-political issues in the neighborhood during this difficult time for them. For example, he reports on attempts to keep drug dealers out of the neighborhood. However, after the death of a good friend, Bambaataa questions the street gangs. Although he has positive memories of the cohesion and other ideals of his Black Spades, he eventually leaves.

Afrika Bambaataa remembers the Zulu film and implements his idea of ​​his own Zulu nation together with Black Spades companions. Bam, as he is often called, attaches great importance to what he calls "the fifth element of hip-hop culture": to knowledge in all possible areas of life, which he constantly collects and passes on, to wisdom, understanding and transformation the negative into the positive, the belief in a (common) God, freedom, justice, equality, peace, unity, love, respect, work and, last but not least, joy in life. After all, the first well-known DJ legends such as Kool DJ Herc or Grandmaster Flash as well as the emergence of the other hip-hop elements rap , writing and b-boying are the last trigger for the idea of ​​bundling all of this for posterity and for his own own career as a DJ and MC. With his Zulu nation, he tirelessly campaigns for the cultivation of hip-hop culture around the world.

In addition to the Black Spades and his musical role models, Afrika Bambaataa counts the Nation of Islam as one of the factors that influenced him the most. The reference to the often criticized organization is typical for Afrika Bambaataa: he informs himself about many things, then makes his own picture, only takes on what is meaningful and then passes it on either in his texts, (now) over the Internet or in public. The concerns of some people, who do not know him, that he could share even the most radical ideals, are likely to be quite unfounded in view of all of his actions and his interest in world peace and positive international understanding. He continues to deal with topics such as the different world religions, history, sciences, metaphysics , politics, cultures such as those of early Egypt and its mythology as well as, as a critical US citizen, also with more unconventional topics such as ufology or the various conspiracy theories .

The Zulu Nation's anniversary is celebrated annually around the second weekend in November. This event lasts for several days and attracts Zulu nation members from around the world. The program consists alternately of meetings at which current issues are discussed and discussed, and then a musical part at which the hip-hop elements mentioned above are cultivated. The meetings are currently taking place in Harlem in the National Black Theater, the music program in the same New York district in the Kennedy Center. There are also political, socially critical and similar campaigns in which donations are collected or information material is distributed. Current CDs and DVDs, books, clothing, jewelry and similar items from our own production, which are often also dedicated to these topics, are offered at the stands.


Africa Bambaataa (1998)

Bambaataa started his career as a DJ at the Block Parties in New York's Bronx , where he performed with his own sound system . He is best known for his extensive record collection and his unconventional style of incorporating completely different music or speech samples, for example from Malcolm X , into his DJ sets. During this time he was given the nickname "Master of Records": He acquired it in 1976 at his first official DJ battle in Junior High School 123 against Disco King Mario .

A formative publication for the early days is Planet Rock from 1982, created through a collaboration with the Soulsonic Force , Tom Silverman, Arthur Baker and John Robie. In addition to a mix of various other sounds, they used the melody of Kraftwerk's Trans-Europa-Express , a piece that had previously caused a sensation in black clubs. Planet Rock became a classic of hip-hop and techno, as pioneers like WestBam or the techno legends from Detroit are stimulated to create their own. First there was a legal dispute with Kraftwerk until the distribution of the income was clarified. After Kraftwerk, Bambaataa also had the pleasure of being copied, a number of samples from Planet Rock appear in tracks by other DJs and artists. The combination of Kraftwerk elements and rap influenced or established Technolectro , Miami Bass and Electro . At the beginning of the new millennium, various pop musicians brought out songs with these elements. The video gained cult status through its documentation of old school parties, live performances by the band and recordings of space recordings .

The following records, Looking For The Perfect Beat and Renegades Of Funk, were similar to Planet Rock . The films A Street History and Beat Street as well as the summarizing Planet Rock The Album also come from this disguise and electro phase .

Significant moments took place for Afrika Bambaataa in 1984 when he was able to win over his role model James Brown for the song Unity . This sounds typically like James Brown. Afrika Bambaataa brought out World Destruction with John Lydon of the Sex Pistols . It's an explosive mix of hip-hop, punk, and rock, and it's primarily directed against wars.

Bambaataa embarked on a new path in 1986 with Beware The Funk Is Everywhere . Except for Bambaataa's theme , this album was less electronic, but more hip-hop-oriented than Planet Rock . To show where the funk can still be, he also brought 80s rock and pop songs to the record.

The Light from 1988 had a different concept. Afrika Bambaataa produced the album with artists of different musical styles, such as Bootsy Collins , George Clinton , Boy George , Yellowman and UB40 . The Sho Nuff Funky also belonged to this phase . The music ranges from reggae to funk to classical sounds. The piece Reckless with UB40 had the greatest success.

In the late 1980s, Afrika Bambaataa worked on the global nature conservation project One World One Voice . In addition to him, dozens of musicians such as Bob Geldof , Clannad or the Gipsy Kings each contributed a short piece to an overall mix and set an example for the situation and salvation of the earth in the documentary that was broadcast worldwide. With the same goal he also participated with many artists in the video Earth Rise . Similarly, he was committed to the issue of apartheid and participated in an event on the occasion of the liberation of Nelson Mandela .

In 1991 Afrika Bambaataa began to integrate house and techno sounds into his work. The albums Decade Of Darkness , 12 Mixes and Jazzing as well as the associated singles were created in collaboration with De-Point and can best be classified in the area of Eurodance .

With Time Zone and the Soulsonic Force , Bam also released electro and hip-hop records, Warlocks And Witches, Computer Chips, Micro Chips And You , Lost Generation and their releases enjoy a better reputation among his fans than their predecessors.

The soundtrack for a computer game was We Funk This Party Out from 1996, on which Melle Mel and Kurtis Blow also participated.

After a successful collaboration with WestBam under the name IFO , Afrika Bambaataa released Leftfield Afrika Shoxx in the late 1990s . The video with the black man tormenting his way through the big city of New York City and literally gradually breaking due to its hardness is one of the best known by Chris Cunningham and made it to MTV and VIVA . Bambaataa played a supporting role.

In 1999 Afrika Bambaataa published a 2-step and electro-funk album of the same name under the name "Hydraulic Funk" .

In the 1990s he played in clubs around the world and at numerous techno and hip-hop events, until 2006 he also played regularly at the Loveparade closing rally .

In 2000 he helped the Zulu Nation in Berlin to found the indie label Mellowvibes Records and produced a maxi with Zulu King Ben and Rookid aka 2K. This never came officially on the market, there was only a promotional edition of about 500 pieces.

2000 began working with Hardy Hard under the name Sirius B . Sirius B became known through the video Tell-Lie-Vision from 2003, because it is based on the title piece by Spiegel TV and the text deals very critically with the medium of television . It ran on Sunshine Live , VIVA and MTV throughout the year .

In 2001, Afrika Bambaataa produced the soundtrack for a basketball commercial for Nike from the sounds that are made while practicing this sport. The spot was only broadcast in America, a similar one ran in Germany. After September 11th of this year he took part in commemorative events and published the single “Star Spangled Banner” under the name “Hydraulic Funk”, in order to campaign for peace in the politically tense situation.

In 2004 the albums Everyday People and Dark Matter Moving At The Speed ​​Of Light ( electro and breakbeats ) were released.

In the spring of 2005, Afrika Bambaataa took part in a demonstration against the New York hip-hop radio station Hot 97 . The reason: Hot 97 had released a song that discriminated against the victims of the tsunami disaster in Asia and Africa. Bambaataa also criticized the station's misogynistic comments and the frequent use of the word "nigger". After the floods of New Orleans at the end of Afrika Bambaataa criticized along with allies like Davey D vigorously the US government under George W. Bush . The reason for this was the fact that this was delayed by days and therefore intervened too late to help many of the mostly colored residents.

In 2006, Afrika Bambaataa was inducted into the Bronx Walk Of Fame and recognized by VH1 for his work in hip-hop culture. Nonetheless, he maintained a critical stance, since many of the radio and TV stations located in the United States at that time did not present the full diversity of hip-hop, but only a few artists who often combined this musical culture with a more brand-oriented , sexist, criminal and did not burden a particularly intelligent image - at times of day when children are sitting in front of the television. At Zulu Nation meetings, allegations against the media came up of neglecting role model duties and penalizing artists with more political, meaningful and intelligent texts, especially if they were not white.

On December 22, 2007, the artist participated in the first annual Tribute Fit For the King of King Records in honor of the late James Brown . The concert, organized by Bootsy Collins , also included performances by Chuck D ( Public Enemy ), Buckethead , Freekbass, Triage and the Soul Generals.

Also in 2007, Afrika Bambaataa was nominated for the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame . In 2008, however, other artists, above all Madonna , were included on the grounds that they were more important for their respective genre.

Radio WHCR

Africa Bambaataa (1998)

Afrika Bambaataa has been hosting its own radio show since 2004. He puts on music that he calls "True School" (derived from the hip-hop categories Old School and New School, which he considers to be just as nonsensical as the division into East Coast and West Coast due to the judgmental aftertaste ). There is mostly a large selection from soul , hip-hop, funk , electro funk , Miami bass and reggae , from ballad-like to danceable, from cheerful to serious statements. Listeners have the opportunity to express themselves during the broadcast. In between, Bambaataa uses the medium of radio for its own messages to the listener. Mostly he shares the studio with Yoda from the crash crew . When he is on tour , members of the Zulu Nation represent him .

Alleged sexual abuse of adolescents

In April 2016, hip-hop activist Ronald Savage accused Bambaataa of the sexual abuse he allegedly committed in 1980 when Bambaataa was 15 years old. As a result, three other abuse victims came forward. Bambaataa published a statement in Rolling Stone later that month in which he denied the allegations. On May 6, 2016, he resigned as leader of the Zulu Nation.


Videos and DVDs

  • Electro rock
  • Electric dance hop
  • The show
  • Dance Hits / Dance Classics (Various)
  • Scratch (various)
  • Kings Of Hip Hop The Founders
  • Chuck D Hip Hop Hall of Fame
  • Hip Hop - A Street History
  • Beat Street
  • One World One Voice
  • Sun City Making Of
  • Earth Rise
  • Rapmania
  • Redefinition of Hip Hop
  • The Freshest Kids - History Of The B-Boy




  • Afrika Bambaataa & The Cosmic Force: Zulu Nation Throw Down (1980, 12 ″)
  • Afrika Bambaataa & The Soul Sonic Force: Throw Down (1980, 12 ″)
  • Afrika Bambaataa & The Jazzy Five: Jazzy Sensation (1981, 12 ″)
  • Afrika Bambaataa & The Soul Sonic Force: Planet Rock (1982, 12 ″)
  • Afrika Bambaataa & The Soul Sonic Force: Looking For The Perfect Beat (1983, 12 ″)
  • Afrika Bambaataa & The Soul Sonic Force: Renegades Of Funk (1983, 12 ″)
  • Afrika Bambaataa & Friends: Death Mix (1983, 12 ″)
  • Afrika Bambaataa & The Soul Sonic Force: Frantic Situation (1984, 12 ″)
  • Afrika Bambaataa & Family: Funk You! (1985, 12 ″)
  • Afrika Bambaataa & Family: Bambaataa's Theme (1986, 12 ″)
  • Afrika Bambaataa & Family feat. UB 40: Reckless (1988, 12 ″)


  • Afrika Bambaataa & The Soul Sonic Force: Planet Rock - The Album (1984, LP)
  • Shango: Shango Funk Theology (1984, LP)
  • Afrika Bambaataa & Family: Beware The Funk Is Everywhere (1986, LP / CD)
  • Afrika Bambaataa & Family: The Light (1988, LP / CD)
  • One World One Voice (Various) (1989, CD)


  • Afrika Bambaataa And Family: 1999–2000: The Decade Of Darkness (1991, CD / LP)
  • Afrika Bambaataa And The Universal Zulu Nation: Hip Hop / Funk / Dance Classics Vol. 1 Feat. The Battle Of The Cold Crush Brothers Versus Grandwizard Theodore & The Fantastic 5 MC's Live At Harlem World / Bronx River Center (1991, LP)
  • Time Zone: Thy Will Be Funk (1992, LP)
  • 1 Afrika Bambaataa And The Universal Zulu Nation: Hip Hop / Funk / Dance Classics Vol. 2 (1992, LP)
  • Afrika Bambaataa And The Universal Zulu Nation: Hip Hop / Funk / Dance Classics Vol. 3 (1993, LP)
  • The Grand Rap Masters: Christmas Rapping (1994, CD)
  • Afrika Bambaataa: The 12-Mixes (1995, CD)
  • Khayan And The New World Power: Jazzin´ (1996, CD)
  • Time Zone: Warlocks And Witches, Computer Chips, Micro Chips And You (1996, CD)
  • Afrika Bambaataa And The Soulsonic Force: Lost Generation (1998, CD / LP)
  • Afrika Bambaataa And Family: Universal Future Funk Vol.1 (1998, LP)
  • Afrika Bambaataa And The Soulsonic Force: Planet Rock The Dance Album (1999, LP / CD)
  • Afrika Bambaataa: An Electro Funk Breakdown Mix (1999, LP / CD)
  • Afrika Bambaataa: Zulu Groove (1999, CD)
  • Afrika Bambaataa And The Soulsonic Force: Planet Rock 2000 (1999, LP / CD)
  • Afrika Bambaataa: Zulu Nation War Chant (1999, LP / CD)
  • Hydraulic Funk: The Spell Of Kingu (1999, LP / CD)
  • Tribute to Kraftwerk Feat. Afrika Bambaataa: It's More Fun To Compute (1999, CD)
  • Afrika Bambaataa And The Soulsonic Force: Return To Planet Rock (1999, LP / CD)


  • Afrika Bambaataa: Zumbi Zulu (Nacao Zumbi Album) (2000)
  • Battle Of The Year 2001 (compilation) with the songs It's A B-Boy Thang and The Cats Crawl (2001)
  • Afrika Bambaataa: Looking for The Perfect Beat 1980–1985 (2001, LP / CD)
  • Hydraulic Funk Feat. Afrika Bambaataa: Nike Freestyle (2001, CD-ROM)
  • Scratch soundtrack (2002)
  • Afrika Bambaataa presents East Side (2003, Compilation)
  • Time Zone: Everyday People (2004, album)
  • Afrika Bambaataa And The Millennium Of The Gods: Dark Matter Moving At The Speed ​​Of Light (2004, LP / CD)
  • KRS-One : Keep Right (Guest Appearances) (2004, CD)
  • TelLieVision ( Sirius B feat. Hardy Hard and Afrika Bambaataa) (2004, LP / CD / Midi)

Unknown vintage

  • Africa Bambaataa and The Horrid: It's Yours (12 ″)
  • Afrika Bambaataa and Adam Sky : Hopefiends EP: Nuklear Bomb (12 ″)


  • 1998: Technics DMC DJ Hall Of Fame Award
  • 1999: Source Awards: Pioneer Award
  • 1999: Hip-Hop (Rock'n'Roll) Hall Of Fame
  • 2000: Experience Music Project Museum Seattle
  • 2002: Billboard Pioneer Of Hip Hop Award

Web links

Individual evidence

  1. Chart sources: DE AT CH UK US
  2. Afrika Bambaataas Planet Rock on
  3. Freekbass, Buckethead and Chuck D Pay Tribute to James Brown with Bootsy Collins ( Memento from February 9, 2008 in the Internet Archive )
  4. Afrika Bambaataa sex abuse accuser Ronald Savage speaks out . In: NY Daily News . ( [accessed March 25, 2018]).
  5. Africa Bambaataa Calls Sexual Abuse Allegations 'A Cowardly Attempt to Tarnish My Reputation' . In: Billboard . ( [accessed March 25, 2018]).
  6. Kiersten Willis: Africa Bambaataa Steps Down as Zulu Nation Leader Amid Reports of Child Sexual Assault . In: Atlanta Black Star . May 9, 2016 ( [accessed March 25, 2018]).