At 53 years old, Afrika Bambaataa has truly earned the title "Grandfather/Godfather of Hip-Hop." With a body of work spanning nearly four decades, this former Bronx street-gang warlord and founder of the Zulu Nation is one of three recognized originators of break-beat DJing and among the first performers to take hip-hop from the streets of New York to the world at large. He's also (sometimes arguably) credited with appointing the term "hip-hop" to the now thriving collective culture of DJing, emceeing, break dancing, and creating graffiti art.
Best-known for his genre-defining electro-funk rap hit "Planet Rock," Bam's prolific catalog boasts collaborations with some of the most important figures of contemporary music, including Johnny Rotten, Sly and Robbie, George Clinton, and James Brown. Named one of Life magazine's Most Important Americans of the 20th Century, his humanitarian work with community education programs, charities, the Stop the Violence movement, and the African National Congress during the anti-apartheid crusade of the 1980s extend his legacy far beyond his enormous contributions to hip-hop, dance music, and the art of turntablism.
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Even though he'll not likely don the ceremonial headdress and wildly eccentric outfits — trademark of his live shows in the '80s — Bambaataa and his concert Friday at Revolution is still an event not to be missed. For those who slept on his recent performance at Vagabond during the 2010 Winter Music Conference, this is a rare late pass to witness a true living legend in action.