Afrika Bambaataa (born either April 10 or October 4, 1957 or 1960, depending on who you ask; he himself refuses to comment on his age) is a DJ, producer and community leader from the South Bronx, New York. He is viewed as an influential force in the development of early hip hop and electro music.
As a teenager, Bambaataa was a member of the Bronxdale gang, The Savage Seven. However, following a trip to Africa, he had a complete change in outlook (it was at this point that he changed his name to Afrika Bambaataa, a reference to the Michael Caine film "Zulu").
He changed his name following a life-altering visit to Africa, choosing the name "Afrika Bambaataa as a tribute to the Michael Caine film "Zulu."
Upon returning to the States, Bambaataa decided he would use his leadership to try to create something more positive to the community. He founded a community group called "The Organization," which would later became known as the Zulu Nation, a group of politically active artists.
By the late 70s, hip hop was emerging as a popular underground music in New York, and Afrika Bambaataa became well-known as a DJ, organizing parties throughout the city. In 1980, he recorded the classic Soul Sonic Force single, "Zulu Nation Throwdown". This would be followed by "Planet Rock" in 1982.
The original "mashup" record, "Planet Rock" merged hip hop rhymes with the icey European electronics of Kraftwerk's "Trans-Europe Express," uniting the two sounds for the first time. Highly influential in the development of electro and techno music, "Planet Rock" would go on to become one of the best-selling 12" singles ever.