Jay-Z, Queen Latifah, A Tribe Called Quest, Beastie Boys, Rage Against the Machine, The Chemical Brothers—all these hip-hop, rock, and electronic greats bow down to a certain music legend named Afrika Bambaataa.
Who’s he, you ask? Bam has "only" been christened one of the three “Godfathers of Hip-Hop”, an honor he shares with fellow breakbeat pioneers DJ Kool Herc and Grandmaster Flash. He is widely revered in hip-hop circles as a foremost figure of the movement when it sprung from the Bronx, New York in the late 70s and early 80s.
Other monikers frequently attached to his name are “The Amen Ra of Universal Hip-Hop Culture”, “Father of the Electro-Funk Sound”, and “Master of Records”.
Singles like “Planet Rock”, “Looking for the Perfect Beat”, and “Renegades of Funk” have been covered, sampled, remixed, and referenced by everyone from Paul Oakenfold to LL Cool J—just goes to show how seminal and far-reaching his sound is. Hit play on the videos after the jump for an Afrika Bambaataa primer.
Besides being a hitmaker, Bam is an advocate of hip-hop as a vehicle for social change. A life-changing trip to Africa turned this erstwhile gang leader into the founder of the Universal Zulu Nation, a collective of socially awakened DJs, rappers, break dancers, and graffiti artists that counts KRS-One, Public Enemy, De La Soul, and Jungle Brothers among its brethren.
In 1990, Life magazine heralded Bam one of the “Most Important Americans of the 20th Century”. In 2007, he was nominated for induction into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, putting him firmly in place as one of the leading lights of hip-hop.
Pay homage to hip-hop visionary Afrika Bambaataa as he shares the stage with groundbreaking international and local acts at the first-ever Manila Music Festival, happening on May 1 at the Alphaland Bay City, Paranaque City.
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Manila Music Festival