Afrika Bambaataa, Cornell University and DJs Shadow and Cut Chemist
All rise for Bambaataa, the Master of Records, founder of the Universal Zulu Nation and legendary hip hop recording artist!
And Bambaataa's still making history by doing what no other hip hop DJ has done...EVER! Before letting Messrs. Shadow and Chemist touch his prized record collection, Bambaataa opened up his humongous and pioneering record collection to the public.
Imagine the DJ behind 1983's Death Mix sharing all his musical dope with you?! YES, Bambaataa gave 638 boxes of vinyl records to the archives at Cornell University (big up Ivy League $$!) This is the same archive that Abraham Lincoln's Emancipation Proclamation document is stored!
|Cornell University Library Annex (source: Fuse TV)|
"My mother bought that first 200 [records] and I came with all the other 1000s. I used to buy the different funk groups like the great Sly and Family Stone, the god James Brown...I was crazy about Curtis Mayfield...on the rock side it was Credance Clearwater Revival and Grand Funk Railroad and the Rolling Stones.
It was more about picking out different sounds than I was hearing on the radio and what I wanted to play for my audience...taking them on a musical journey. My audience used to always look for something wild to be played at the party. I might play Bo Diddly... Pink Panther...
I didn't get too competitive with myself as I already had more grooves than everybody out there and other DJs were trying to find out what songs Bambaataa was playing. If I seen a certain [album] cover I knew if it looked like a Polydor Records or if looked like Columbia Records...I could hear a certain sound or the way a person was singing...that's what made the fun out of digging in the crates and researching the records you want." Afrika Bambaataa, Universal Zulu Nation.
"This is the record collection that invented hip hop. This is the place that people will want to go to get the clearest understanding of how this culture began. We are preserving this stuff...but for future generations.
You can see the diversity of Bambaataa's record collection. That's one of the biggest hallmarks of Afrika Bambaata who was originally known as the 'Master of Records.' We like it when the [record] jacket is all beat up. You can tell he played this record alot.
When you look at the span of music [and] the knowledge Afrika Bambaataa has as a DJ that influencing the music he produced himself but influencing others to produce is here. He's the one that taught us how to rock a crowd. He's the one who taught us that we should play a variety of music.
Some of Bam's records are still in these travel cases, never unpacked from particular trips. So records inside of these cases...will never separated from these boxes because these are actual sets that he created for particular point for a particular purpose.
We got 638 boxes in the Bam archives...we have separated out some of the heavily annotated records from Bam's archived. This box was labelled "Zulu Sure Shots" so these would be records that Bambaataa himself would've annotated with "Zulu Nation," "Funky," a lot of them say, "Sure Shot" on them! You can see his rating system here and these are the songs he likes. Obviously, he's blocked out the label as everybody know [as] back in the days DJs would obscure what they were playing so other that other DJs could not gather the intell...." Ben Ortiz, assistant curator, Cornell Hip Hop Collection.
Afrika Bambaataa's ZULU SURE SHOTs
Diggin' in the crates