On April 17, 1957 Kevin Donovan was born in the South Bronx, New York, to a family of socially conscious people. His mother and his uncle were active within the black liberation movement of the 1960’s. Donovan was exposed to ideas and tactics used to obtain freedom for the people of the African diaspora. Donovan was also exposed to the South Bronx gang culture. He was a member of the Black Spades, a gang in which he was a leader. Under his leadership the gang flourished throughout the city displaying his natural abilities. As a teen Donovan earned a trip to Africa by winning an essay contest. This trip to Africa would change this young man’s life forever.
Donovan was inspired by the Zulu of South Africa. He was most impressed with the Chief of the Zulu Bhambatha. He marveled at the unity and the community Chief Bhambatha built with his leadership. Soon after his trip to Africa, Donovan changed his name to Afrika Bambaataa Aasim. He also became a part of the change within his neighborhood. He created an organization called The “Bronx River Organization.” This organization was designed to build up the neighborhoods instead of tearing them down. Bambaataa also begin hosting parties in 1977 which were designed to spread love and unity through the neighborhoods. These parties were some of the early scenes where the Hip-Hop music grew out of the culture of the South Bronx.
DJ Kool Herc and Grandmaster Flash were some of the early pioneers credited with creating the music of Hip-Hop. Afrika Bambaataa is credited with naming and defining the culture of Hip-Hop. In 1982 Bambaataa and his band of performers traveled outside of the United States on a Hip-Hop tour. This tour was just what Bambaataa needed to help him spread Hip-Hop and its messages around the world. He would later create two new Hip-Hop groups the Jazzy 5 and the Soulsonic Force. As a member of The Soulsonic Force Bambaataa and his crew released a groundbreaking song “Planet Rock” which helped change Hip-Hop forever.
Bambaataa would later change the name of The Soulsonic Force to the Universal Zulu Nation as he continued to spread Hip-Hop across the world. Hip-Hop was used to unite the neighborhoods of the South Bronx helping them build their community. Bambaataa was also using the music to unite the world. He used his influence and resources to help within the Anti-apartheid movement of South Africa and the Stop the Violence movement in America. He released 22 albums and appeared on various soundtracks and song features. Afrika Bambaataa found a way to change his negative energy and outlook into a positive one. Because of the efforts of Bambaataa and other Hip-Hop pioneers the music and culture of Hip-Hop has spread worldwide. Bambaataa’s song “Planet Rock” is considered one of the greatest songs of all time. “Planet Rock” proved that one could have fun, dance, and shut the party down all while uplifting their community. Africa Bambaataa Aasim, we stand on your shoulders.
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