Afrika Bambaataa Forms The Universal Zulu Nation [1970-80s]
Shortly after Kool Herc began throwing the legendary block parties that would birth hip-hop culture, Kevin Donovan, better know as Afrika Bambaataa, was returning from a pilgrimage of sorts in Africa.
The trip was transformative, and Bambaataa, a prominent figure in New York’s gang culture, returned determined to change the trend of death and vice in his community. He co-opted his own gang and several others into the Universal Zulu Nation, a massive collective of street kids and (now ex) gangbangers. Zulu would go on to streamline the idea of hip-hop’s five elements and become the largest crew around.
Though largely lost on most hip-hop heads in the U.S., Zulu’s legacy is a unified community with an aversion to physical violence. The angst and conflict of gang brawls and shootings was channeled into the creative elements of hip-hop.
Bambaataa himself would go on to enjoy a several years of commercial success as one of the first emcees to utilizes the newest element at the time, rap.
Together with Kool Herc, Bambaataa and the Zulu movement are the progenitors of everything we love about hip-hop today.