The true birth date of Afrika Bambaataa has never been confirmed, but what is known is that he was born Kevin Donovan in the South Bronx. A high ranking member of the Black Spades criminal gang, Bambaataa DJ reformed and became a politically active DJ.
From these beginnings, he would go on to become one of hip-hop music's pioneering artists. He founded two of rap's most important groups: Soul Sonic Force and the Jazzy 5. The former released Planet Rock, Afrika Bambaataa's best-known track.
He would also found the political rap organization, The Universal Zulu Nation.
1973 - Founds The Universal Zulu Nation
1975 - Founds Jazzy 5
1981 - Founds Soul Sonic Force
1982 - Releases Planet Rock single
1983 - Releases Looking For The Perfect Beat and Renegades Of Funk
1990 - Awarded place in Life Magazine's poll of the Most Important Americans of the 20th Century.
2004 - Releases critically acclaimed solo album Dark Matter Moving At The Speed Of Light
2007 - Inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame
With the possible exception of singles like Planet Rock and looking for the perfect beat, Afrika Bambaataa's greatest achievements did not take place in the recording studio. With his establishment of the Universal Zulu Nation (1973), the Jazzy 5 (1975) and the Soul Sonic Force (1981), Afrika Bambaata laid down the blueprint for some of the most important groups in hip-hop.
Much of his impact came from a sustained period of performing and DJ-ing throughout the 1970s and 1980s. He is credited with originating turn-tablism - the practice of using a pair of record turntable is as musical instruments - as well as establishing a hip-hop music as a credible genre.
He is also one of the few hip-hop artists to be inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, which he achieved in 2007. He remains one of hip-hop's most enduring and idiosyncratic figures.
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