Saturday, October 18, 2008
Kufiyaspotting #42: Afrika Bambaataa (or is it faux?)
I've been a fan of Afrika Bambaataa ever since I heard, back in the day, Afrika Bambaataa and the Soul Sonic Force do "Looking for the Perfect Beat" from 1982 (check out the terrific video here.) Bam, along with DJ Kool Herc and Grandmaster Flash, was one of the pioneers of hip-hop, and he and the Soul Sonic Force were largely responsible for the moment in the early eighties when rap was dominated by the "electrofunk" sound. (Then Run-DMC came along and hardcore took over.) I had the good fortune to see Bam and the Soul Force perform in Austin, at Liberty Lunch, in 1986 or 1987.
Bam & Co. were renowned for their creative, wild, Afrofuturist outfits--in the tradition of Parliament/Funkadelic and the Sun Ra Arkestra, but with a touch of the Village People for good measure. I don't remember ever seeing a video with Bam dressed in this Afrofuturist "sheikh" outfit (kufiya and 'aqal, the cord used to hold the kufiya in place.) This photo appears in the CD jacket to Part One of the Rhino Records box set, Street Jams: Electric Funk, a wonderful document of that era, with tracks from Flash, Grandmixer D.ST., Newcleus, The Wreckin Cru (featuring Dr. Dre!) and much more. (Alas, no Arabian Prince.)
"We are the future, You are the past!"