AFRIKA BAMBAATAA

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1976

After two years as a teenage lieutenant in a Bronx, New York, NY, street gang called the Black Spades, Bambaataa (b. Kevin Donovan (aka Khayan Aasim), Apr. 10, 1960, South Bronx,) forms Zulu Nation, a Bronx-based grouping of street-wise urban youngsters and Afro-centric culturally and politically-motivated musicians. The music of turntable DJs and rappers at block parties and in clubs is central to the group, and


Bambaataa’s reputation as a DJ and Emcee (who has a considerable knowledge of recorded funk history), grows as the momentum of the rap/electro/hip-hop genre he is helping to pioneer develops.

1980

Bambaataa makes his first venture into recorded hip - hop for producer Paul Winfield, with different versions of Zulu Nation Throwdown by two rap groups in his collective, Cosmic Force and Soul Sonic Force. Thereafter, Bambaataa joins forces with fledgling New York street-dance label Tommy Boy, run by Tom Silverman.

1982

Feb His debut Tommy Boy release is Jazzy Sensation (based on Gwen Guthrie’s Funky Sensation) by another Zulu Nation rap group, the Jazzy Five, coproduced by Bambaataa and Arthur Baker.

Sept (11] Planet Rock, credited to Afrika Bambaataa & the Soul Sonic Force (Emcee G. L.O. B.E., Mr. Biggs and Pow Wow), produced by John Robie and Arthur Baker, and fusing rap with the electronic music of European groups like Tangerine Dream and Kraftwerk (whose Trans-Europe Express is a primary inspiration for the track), has become a huge street - selling 12" single hit in New York and other US urban areas, though lack of nationwide airplay restricts it to US #48, (nevertheless earning a gold disk for a million-plus sales) and makes UK #53. (It will have a huge dance record influence on both sides of the Atlantic, with its bass line used on at least 70 American releases in 1983.)

1983

Mar Bambaataa, Baker and Soul Sonic Force follow up with Looking For The Perfect Beat, a US and UK Dance chart smash, which also features in the film “Beat Street”. (The track will subsequently evolve into the 1988 Bomb The Bass UK #2 hit Beat Dis.)

1984

Mar [17] Renegades Of Funk, Bambaataa’s last Tommy Boy release, cements his position as one of the most influential producers and protagonists of the burgeoning hip-hop genre and also reaches UK #30. June Switching to New York label Celluloid, Bambaataa releases first album Shango Funk Theology, co-produced with bassist Bill Laswell and featuring Shango - a studio line-up of rappers and funk musicians.

Sept 115] Unity (Part 1 - The Third Coming), on which Tom Silverman has teamed Bambaataa with soul veteran James Brown, makes UK #49.

1985

Feb [2] Time Zone’s World Destruction, a further liaison with Laswell, which pairs Bambaataa and Public Image Ltd. singer John Lydon, makes UK #44. Dec [14] Artists United Against Apartheid, a music collective comprising 49 artists including Bambaataa, makes US #38 and UK #21 with Sun City.

1986

July [19] Bambaataa takes part in “UK Fresh” at the Capital Music Festival, Wembley Arena, Wembley, Middx.

His connection with Soul Sonic Force severed, following the prosecution of two of its members for armed robbery in the late ’70s, he forms Afrika Bambaataa & the Family.

1988

Mar [26] Having released Bambaataa’s Theme and Beware (The Funk Is Everywhere) via WEA in 1987, and now signed to EMI Manhattan, he has recorded The Light With The Family, again co-produced by Laswell and featuring guests Boy George, Nona Hendryx and UB40, which includes Reckless, with UB40, now reaching UK #17.

1991

Apr [3] Increasingly revered by the new generation of rap artists as one of the genre’s original innovators, he appears at “RAP, Portraits And Lyrics Of A Generation Of Black Rockers” with Big Daddy Kane, Queen Latifah and others at the S. O.B., New York.

1996

Feb [9] While EMI has released his 1991 sophomore label effort Decade Of Darkness (which includes the Oct [19] UK #45-peaking Just Get Up And Dance), and Bambaataa has issued the career collection Time Zone on his own Planet Rock label in 1993, the rap pioneer, who has also recently been a DJ on Hot 97 radio in New York, makes a rare visit to the UK, opening a five - date tour at the Blue Note club in London.

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