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Afrika Bambaataa: American DJ. New Yorker Kevin Donovan (b New York, 10 April 1960). The name was adopted to tie in with his musical cohorts The Zulu Nation. The Jungle Brothers, another act, dubbed themselves as Baby Afrika Bambaataa in his honour.
Afrika Bambaataa grew up in New York's South Bronx, his musical eclecticism matched by his vision of African American social and racial unity. In the mid-1970s he was one of the pioneers of New York's emergent hip hop culture of rapping, DJ mixing and scratching, graffiti and breakdancing. Along with two other Bronx DJs, Grandmaster Flash and Kool Herc, he began playing small percussive sections from obscure and unexpected rock, funk and electro-pop records as a rhythm track for rappers, interspersing the beats with extracts from cartoon melodies and film themes. When hip hop moved from school gymnasium dances to the mainstream world of record contracts, Bambaataa recorded 'Zulu Nation Throwdown' for the Harlem entrepreneur, Paul Winley. Unhappy with Winley, he moved to Tommy Boy Records, where his third contribution to that label, Planet Rock, was recorded in collaboration with Tom Silverman, rappers Soul Sonic Force, musician John Robie and engineer Arthur Baker. Incorporating the melodies of Kraftwerk and Ennio Morricone, the record became a huge international hit in 1982 and set a trend for futuristic electronic dance music. Inspired by the British film Zulu, Bambaataa had founded a loosely convened organization of hip-hop's cultural luminaries, called the Universal Zulu Nation and subsequent recordings such as Looking For the Perfect Beat and 'Renegades of Funk' promoted the ideals of the organization. After touring the southern states of America, Bambaataa also worked under the name of Shango. Described as both a fan and a master of records, Bambaataa achieved one of his lifetime ambitions in 1984 by recording Unity, a duet with James Brown. Later releases included collaborations with ex-Sex Pistol John Lydon, reggae artist Yellowman and Culture Club singer Boy George. Although no longer in the forefront of hip hop, his hybridization of dance music has been profoundly influential.
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