Afrika Bambaataa

(b. 1957)

Born Keith Donovan, the pioneering Hip-Hop DJ Afrika Bambaataa grew up in the Bronx in the infamous Bronx River Projects, getting involved in gang culture and rising to the position of "warlord" in the Black Spades. If fully absorbed into gang life, Bambaataa was also the child of an activist mother and well aware of the Black Power movement and the radical thinking in the Black community that came on the heels of the Civil Rights era. After a trip to Africa and influenced by the emerging Hip Hop scene, Bambaataa formed the Universal Zulu Nation.

Shifting his world view in a dramatic fashion, Bambataa espoused the idea that Hip Hop — a term he is said to have created — could draw young people away from gang life and into a peaceful, art-rich lifestyle that could help to reorient the torn communities of the inner city. As a DJ, Bambaataa is seen as a key figure in the birth of Hip Hop. As a public figure, he is seen as an individual who helped carry a message about music's power to change lives.