The hip-hop godfather speaks exclusively with WHO?MAG about his legacy and the 30th year of “Planet Rock”.


By William Hernandez


WHO?MAG:  How do you feel about the 30th Anniversary of Tommy Boy Records?
AFRIKA BAMBAATAA:  It’s a beautiful thing to see any label that lasts that long and also the 30th anniversary of “Planet Rock” and the 30th anniversary of Grandmaster Flash and the Furious Five with “The Message”.  We’re enjoying our 30-30-30.

WHO?MAG:  How did “Planet Rock” come about?
AFRIKA BAMBAATAA:  “Planet Rock” came about because we wanted to rap something dealing with our great planet and bring it something that would bring many different people from different cultures together.  And with Arthur Baker and the Soul Sonic Force and the rest of us, it became a phenomenon and now we got Hip-Hop, Electro Funk, and all these different sounds of the music happening all over the world.

WHO?MAG:  And how did “Renegades of Funk” come about?
AFRIKA BAMBAATAA:  “Renegades of Funk” came about because we wanted to talk about those renegades that many people don’t like to speak about who wanted to make change, but we wanted to bring about that we are the Renegades of Funk so we do the music OUR way.

WHO?MAG:  And “Looking for the Perfect Beat”?
AFRIKA BAMBAATAA:  “Looking for the Perfect Beat” is that everybody got something in their heart that they’re looking for which is that perfect beat, whether you’re dealing with mathematics, science, or anything that you look for in life with that perfect beat.  And at the other side of the record, when you saying each other country was looking for the perfect beat, and they didn’t listen, like they still not listening today, and at the end you hear that big “BOOM” go.

WHO?MAG:  Who are some of your influences musically?
AFRIKA BAMBAATAA:  You gotta give it up to the god himself, James Brown, to Sly & The Family Stone, to George Clinton, and as well as all the Motown and the Stacks and Isaac Hayes and the Isley Brothers and the queen herself Aretha Franklin.

WHO?MAG:  How did you get into DJing? 1:44
AFRIKA BAMBAATAA:  (I literally can’t make out any of the names of people or stations or anything for this part.)

WHO?MAG:  How do you feel about Miami bass and you being one of the pioneers of the bass sound?
AFRIKA BAMBAATAA:  Miami bass is another part of the electro funk sound which is also the latin freestyle sound that came out of that electro funk sound. It was all a family.

WHO?MAG:  What are your thoughts on 2 Live Crew?
AFRIKA BAMBAATAA:  That’s a family with my brother Luke.  He got crazy, he got nasty.  He did his nasty thing.

WHO?MAG:  How did you feel about “Throw That D” when Mr. Mix used “Planet Rock”?
AFRIKA BAMBAATAA:  Well many people have sampled “Planet Rock” well. You know I’m always honored when anyone uses the music that I make. You know I’m a DJ so I know how it is when you want to use them.

WHO?MAG:  Any last words you want to add Mr. Afrika?
AFRIKA BAMBAATAA:  Basically, we got to put a little love back in the universe you know, to the planets.  If we keep putting negativity out, you’re going to keep getting negativity back.  That’s it!  Peace, unity, love and having fun!