Afrika Bambaataa on Hip-Hop: "It's Put So Many People Together That Politics Hasn't"
Afrika Bambaataa, the Godfather of Hip-Hop
Three decades ago, Afrika Bambaataa found the perfect beat when he made the "Planet Rock." And it was that beat-breaking track that bridged the gap between hip-hop and electronic music.
But there's more to the Godfather of Hip-Hop than "Planet Rock:" Bam is credited for coining the term hip-hop because the rhymes were "hip and [made] you hippity-hop to the beat," he is the founder of the Universal Zulu Nation, and there's a petition going around to nominate the hip-hip revolutionist for a Nobel Peace Prize.
Last week, Crossfade caught up with Bambaataa, who was all the way in London, and spoke to him about how "Planet Rock" revolutionized hip-hop, the influential role of DJs, UZN, and his Miami gig at PAX on June 15 celebrating 20 years of UZN Miami.
Crossfade: So what are you doing in London?
Afrika Bambaataa: Some shows all over the UK.
"Planet Rock" celebrates 30 years this year. How are you celebrating?
We just traveling around and just keep playing the music and keep on reminding them [fans of] the different styles of "Planet Rock" song...
Out of all of the tracks that you've produced, what do you think was so revolutionary about "Planet Rock?"
Well because it's one of the first that came to an up-tempo beat. It had that funk and that techno-pop sound of Gary Numan... and put them together and became the birth of it. And from there, came the different sounds... [like] Miami bass...
What do you think about today's DJs? Do you feel they have a stronger impact?
They were all 'bout the MCs and... many DJs are coming back, from techno to hip-hop... [DJs] have a stronger impact. Definitely. Many hip-hop MCs and R&B soul singers, and many who are doing pop music started off as DJs. You have all sorts of [musician] DJs.
Do you think it's more of a fad?
Some places. It is because you got many other people in the entertainment field jumping on the bandwagon and the music industry is getting so jacked up now and a lot of people are getting back to the entertainment.
Do you think that's what's becoming of the music industry?
It's basically what it might be becoming because everything is focused on the Internet and now people are doing everything they can to download, trying to get your fan base. It's like a big change happening.