Afrika Bambaataa

image for Afrika Bambaataa
Exhibition Label
Afrika Bambaataa is a founding master DJ of hip-hop and the music’s philosophical proponent around the world. A gang member raised in a Bronx housing project, Bambaataa was transformed by a trip to Africa. He returned with a vision to transmute gang violence into cultural battles based in music, dance, and the arts. He founded the Zulu Nation as a new kind of consciousness-raising gang. An influential DJ in New York City’s club scene, "Bam" crafted a global electrobeat with the Soul Sonic Force: he mixed disco and funk with the rhythms of DJ Kool Herc (Jamaica), Kraftwerk (Germany), and the Yellow Magic Orchestra (Japan). An intimidating figure with a tight scowl who often wears a floor-length leather coat, Bambaataa still gives this simple advice to DJs and rappers: "you must seek knowledge." His club hit "Looking for the Perfect Beat" distilled into five words the elusive musical quest of the African diaspora in its American form.
Credit Line
National Portrait Gallery, Smithsonian Institution
Restrictions & Rights
© Laura Levine
See more items in
National Portrait Gallery Collection
1983
Object number
NPG.2012.4
Type
Photograph
Culture
Afrika Bambaataa: American\African American
Artist
Laura Levine, born 1 May 1958
Sitter
Afrika Bambaataa, born 1957
Topic
Costume\Jewelry\Necklace
Afrika Bambaataa: Male
Afrika Bambaataa: Performing Arts\Performer\Musician
Portrait
Place
United States\New York\Kings\New York
Medium
Gelatin silver print
Dimensions
Image: 20.4 x 13.5 cm (8 1/16 x 5 5/16")
Sheet: 25.3 x 20.2 cm (9 15/16 x 7 15/16")
Mat: 45.7 x 35.6 cm (18 x 14")
National Portrait Gallery