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Afrika Bambaataa


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A seminal Bronx DJ during the 1970s, Afrika Bambaataa ascended to godfather status with Planet Rock. The 1982 hip-hop classic blended the beats of hip-hop with techno-pop futurism. It was also 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. This 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 10, 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.

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Freestyle Nation
Freestyle.FM Dee Jays


YearTitleLabel1981"Zulu Nation Throwdown"Winley Records
1981"Jazzy Sensation"Tommy Boy Records
1982"Planet Rock"Tommy Boy Records
1982"Looking For The Perfect Beat"Tommy Boy Records
1983"Renegades of Funk"Tommy Boy Records
1983"Wildstyle"Celluloid Records
1984"Unity"Tommy Boy Records
1986"Bambaataa's Theme"Tommy Boy Records
1984"World Destruction"Atlantic Records
1988"Reckless" (with UB40)EMI
1993"Zulu War Chant"Profile Records
1993"What's the Name of this Nation?...Zulu"Profile Records
1993"Feeling Irie"
DFC1994"Feel the Vibe" (with Khayan)
1998"Agharta - The City of Shamballa" (with WestBam)Low Spirit Recordings


YearAlbumLabel1983Death MixPaul Winley Records
1985Sun City (Artists United Against Apartheid)EMI
1986Planet Rock: The AlbumTommy Boy Records
1986Beware (The Funk Is Everywhere)Tommy Boy Records
1987Death Mix ThrowdownBlatant
1988The DayEMI America Records
1991The Decade of Darkness
1990-2000EMI Records USA
1992Don't Stop... Planet Rock (The Remix EP)Tommy Boy Records
1996Jazzin (Khayan album)ZYX Music
1996Lost GenerationHottie
1996Warlocks and Witches, Computer Chips, Microchips and YouProfile Records
1997Zulu Groove (Compilation)Hudson Vandam
1999Electro Funk BreakdownDMC
1999Return to Planet RockBerger Music
2000Hydraulic FunkStrictly Hype
2000Theme Of The United Nations w/ DJ Yutaka (Japan Only)Avex Trax
2001Electro Funk Breakdown (Compilation)DMX
2001Looking for the Perfect Beat: 1980-1985 (Compilation)Tommy Boy Records
2004Dark Matter Moving at the Speed of LightTommy Boy Records
2005MetalTommy Boy Records2005Metal RemixesTommy Boy Records
2006Death Mix "2"Paul Winley Records

Source: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Afrika_Bambaataa
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