Tuesday, June 10, 2008

Getting Down in Austin with Afrika Bambaataa

Never in my life did I ever think I would ever get to see Hip Hip pioneer and legend Afrika Bambaataa. I thought I missed that chance as I was too young and didn't live in a major Hip Hop mecca like New York City. Well this past Sunday my luck changed. Thanks to a local email list I subscribe to, Do512, I was lucky enough to check out Bambaata over at Beauty Bar on 7th.

For those that don't know, Afrika Bambaataa is a Hip Hop legend best known for being part of the Zulu Nation and such hits like "Planet Rock" and "Looking For the Perfect Beat". If you do a Google image search you'll see him in really eccentric costumes, which he was also known for. Every real Hip Hop fan, B-boy, B-girl, hipster, scenester, dance music lover and their mom knows of Afrika Bambaataa. I had heard that he did DJ sets every now and then at various spots. Again, I was just surprised he came to Austin on a Sunday night. Then again I'm not surprised. That's Austin for you folks. That's the kind of scene and vibe this city of the main reasons I love it here.

Starlynx and D.J. Dojo, according to the show flyer, were responsible for putting the show on. It turns out that D.J. Dojo is DJ Manny and DJ Big Face's record store on Sout h 1st. I had the privilege of meeting DJ Manny in May at an M.E. Live! taping. He was kicking it with Nortec Collective as they were both performing at the first annual Pachanga Festival. Well, here he was again with his DJ and business partner DJ Big Face at Beauty bar before the AfrikaBambaataa set. DJ Manny, being the down to earth and the cool dude that he is recognized me and thanked me for coming. As you can see from the picture, him and Big Face are both pretty animated dudes. The camera you see there was connected to a projector for them to project images on the wall while they do their set. It really adds to their show and is really cool in a dark setting. Their two man, DJ team set included some old school hip hop (of course) and some good electronic beats and rhythms.

Manny and Big Face wrapped up around midnight and did a good job getting the crowd dancing and ready for Bambaataa. What's funny is I was expecting Bambaataa to be in the same area DJ Manny was in, but he was in the DJ booth at the other end of Beauty Bar. I still made my way up to the front of the booth which was conveniently located by the bar (mmm...Lone Star). As he started spinning, me and everyone else went crazy. He spun some old school hip hop and I even remember so old school Luther Vandros in the set. I believe it was "All My Love", but the alcohol clouded my memory at that point. Plus, this wasn't the usual show where the artist or band performs and either I sit and watch or am fighting a crowd in mosh pit. This was a dance party. I was dancing my ass off getting sweaty, as it was crowded and humid Sunday night. I could literally ring my t-shirt out with sweat and I came home tired and worn out.

Check out a shot I took of the crowd at Beauty Bar during the set. The crowd was your typical Beauty Bar crowd: eclectic, all races and all scenes represented including hipster kids, B-boys, and everything in between. Sunday night with Afrika Bambaataa was in my mind, what early Hip Hop pioneers envisioned for Hip Hop. Hip Hop would be a way to unite everyone regardless of crowd and age, class or race, and make them feel good together. Thanks to Starlynx and Beauty Bar for hooking this whole thing up and giving me one of my best memories yet.

When you see an Afrika Bambaataa DJ set, you just get down crazy (as in dance a lot). Something takes over you and you feel like it's the early 1980s all over again, when Hip Hop was fun and new. Hip Hop is alive and well in Austin, even though it isn't what we are really known for.

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1 comment:

Manuel H. said...

YO! Ian, I miss YO MTV Raps! Again, some of us are not as "lucky" as some people who know some people.
I did get to see DJ Manny at Panchaga Music Fest, a couple weeks ago, and in an interview with Rock y Roll Radio ( their broadcast site. (I scored a back stage pass because I know people in low places.) It was kid of funny because DJ Manny had a mobile DJ system mounted on a three wheel bike. I can't say I've seen that set up before but it worked great. DJ Big Face was not with DJ Manny at Pachanga but I did score his CD Mix through my un-named source. I really liked his selection of old school rock songs like Heart and Paul McCartney to name a few.
I haven't heard any Afrika Bambaataa in a long time, maybe I can get some tunes from my un-named source and re-live the YO MTV Rap days. Thanks.