The recent allegations of child molestation made against Afrika Baambata were earth shattering to any true hip hop head. Afrika Bambaataa is widely known as one of the founders of hip hop culture. Hip Hop has historically been intolerant of homosexuality and I can’t think of any instances where child molesters are accepted. These are allegations and nothing has been proven but he has been deemed guilty in the court of public opinion.
Afrika Bambaataa is a cultural icon no doubt about it. For guys in my generation (30 – 40yrs old) Bambaataa represented strength reconciliation and pride. He looked like he was not to be fucked with and he was a former leader of the South Bronx gang “Black Spades” = STRENGTH. He helped steer many former gang members into what would become hip hop and would battle with break dancing instead of fighting = RECONCILIATION. Then he called himself “Afrika Bambaataa” which had an extremely profound effect on the psyche of young black males at that time. Much like today there was a negative connotation that was associated with the continent of Africa, even amongst “African Americans”. Bambaataa wore his African heritage as an honor = PRIDE.
These allegations have a Bill Cosbesque feel to it, almost a witch-hunt tone. There have been some credible sources that have come forward. This situation in my opinion is the most important issue in hip hop culture right now. It’s well documented that “keeping it real” is a fundamental part of hip hop. What would be the effect on hip hop if we find that Bambaataa (often called the godfather of hip hop) wasn’t keeping it real? For a brother in my demographic who has a great honor and respect for Bambaataa it’s close to unfathomable. Then the question becomes what is the motive behind coming out now. Is there a bigger motive behind these moves. Is this a tactic to discredit hip hop.
There are many assumptions and theories but what’s the truth? In the weeks since the first allegations, multiple victims, Bambaataa’s body guard and other high ranking Zulu Nation members have come forward. There have also been allegations from Bambaataa’s former bodyguard. The big question here is if the allegations made against Bambaataa should affect hip hop’s legacy. The fact that many in the hip hop community ask this question should show how important Bambaataa is to the culture.
Allegations are made against high profile people all the time. We have definitely seen an increase in these allegations in this information age. Mass media is a very powerful tool that can make or break people.
This has a crazy ripple effect that can’t be ignored, there are just so many questions. Did Bambaataa think that he would never be caught? How many high ranking Zulu leaders were aware of this and for how long? Why did the victims wait so long to come out? What is the potential effect on the legacy of hip hop?
I think this incident will also she’d light on the almost inhuman standard that we hold our hip hop heroes to. That’s not to say we shouldn’t expect our heroes to not molest children but I am saying that until all facts are known.
Traditionally there has been a heavy climate of homophobia in hip hop, it’s been stated but never taken to extremes like physical harm. In the early days of hip hop some of the only clubs that would allow hip hop acts were gay clubs. For example a club may be a gay spot on Sat and Sun then it’s hip hop Wed & Thurs, everybody had their space. Now there was not an effort to mix the cultures but it was tolerated not encouraged.
If Bambaataa is indeed gay I think that is a personal choice that should not affect his work in building this culture. My generation has a reverence for Bambaataa and is less tolerable of homosexuality the younger generation who is largely unaware or unconcerned about Bambaataa will be less judgmental concerning these allegations. I think his alleged homosexuality has nothing to do with the culture he helped create. The child molestation allegations are something that I could not get past, that would forever tarnish his standing in my book. I will always respect his work though and that is how we should measure any artist, celebrity or leader.
If these allegations prove to be true, I pray for the victims and hope they heal and I pray for Bambaataa that he will seek and find forgiveness with the god of the universe. I also hope that justice be served and that all involved will find healing.
Quite Trill 512