Originally posted on May 19, 2006


Afrika Islam: Hip Hop Astronaut


A man of many talents Afrika Islam is something of a jack of all trades in the music industry. DJ, Producer, breakdance artist, Afrika is the son of Mr Bambaataa, and took a little time to educate Megs in the ways of the hip hop galaxy which he orbits.

For those that arent immediately familiar can you give a short explanation on what the Zulu Nation is & who are its key founder.
Zulu Nation is the first family of hip hop. I can suggest heading to zulunation.com and check it out yourself. Sit back a enjoy the history lesson as well as the truth: free your mind and your ass will follow. I think im just a Zulu King looking for my Queen ha ha ha hareally.

Afrika Islam is a unique name, certainly there is influence from your father and then your subsequent involvement in the Zulu Nation.
My name came from my father sure, but the name Islam is not what people think. It is a code. I.s,l,a,m, = i serve lord and master, I am a child of God. Sorry no religious connotations other than that.My nick name was IZ, its a South Bronx hip hop thing.

At age 11 you took up Djing taught by Grand Master Flash ! What was the driving force that got you into djing ?
Respect and trying to be my best as zulu king b-boy in the bronx .

Your credentials are amazing tell me a bit about being part of something as groundbreaking as the Rocksteady Crew.
Well as a DJ/member of the Rock steady Crew I was just proud to be one of the first breakdancers in the world and represent the Zulu nation and hip hop world wide

What was your most memorable djing moment ?
I was blessed to watch all the fathers of hip hop, Kool DJ Herc, my teacher Grand Master Flash, my rival Grand Wizard Theodore & my dad Afrika Bambaataa. True old school rules the school. As a dj myself, my most memorable moments includes becoming DMC world champ, playing Love Parade in front of 1.7 million people, playing Mayday & entering into the hall of fame for my turntables skills.

You havent always been a DJ ?
Thats right, I was also the original member of the Zulu Kings breakers which later became the Rocksteady crew, shortly after I became the dj of the Rocksteady crew. Being part of the crew was about developing your mind body and soul and it is still one of the 5 elements of hip hop.

But you havent always been a producer either ?
Thats right, I had also worked on Flash Dance the movie but as a dancer. They needed real dancers to make the movie legit so here comes Hollywood and the money.

All dancing and Djing aside, you have managed to also become an establishing writer producer. In fact you have won both an oscar and two grammy awards!
The Oscar was for Colors, the two Grammy's were for my involvement in Rockin It - Herbie Hancock and Back on the Block with Quincy Jones. To me and my friends that won these awards, its all for the true school hip hop that counts.

Prior to your work on Colors you have been credited as a driving forced for producing Ice Ts early albums including Rhyme Pays. Together you and Ice T invented the gangsta rap genre.
Yes I produced the first 4 albums from Ice and then I moved on to create Bodycount with him. Gangsta rap to us was just us telling the story of the other side of the sunny Hollywood baywatch bullshit. Its about real ass rap: hard streets, hard beats. So we told the story of the street and we opened the gates of hell. The process is tell the story. Connect the music with the subject matter like what with did with Colors.

You have worked with a long list of people that reads like a who's who of the music industry, including such diverse artists as Michael Jackson to the Eurythmics do you have a favorite artist or collaboration experience you can share with us?
My favourites would be Chuck D, Ice-T, Grandmaster Melle Mel, my father Afrika Bambaataa. For the new ghetto metal band we are working on called Machine, people like Vernon Reed from Living Colors, Flea from the Chilli Peppers, Ernie C of Bodycount, and I hope Trent Reznor of Nine Inch Nails.

What was it like working with a legend such as Michael Jackson?
Michael Jackson was a man that enjoys his music and knows how to use it

Your style seems as diverse as the artists you work with is this a deliberate attempt to do something no one has done before or is it more just a natural mash up of your favorite styles?
To go where no man has gone before .And DJ a space station rave for the aliens out in space

Can you name a few of your musical influences for me?
My influences are drums. The native tribes of earth used the drum to communicate. Other influences are my teacher Grandmaster Flash, my dad Afrika Bambaataa, Jimmy Hendrix, Miles Davis, and techno DJs Westbam and Rush. Music in kung fu movies, Bruce Lee kickin your ass! Herbie Hancock, Quincy Jones and all of true old school hip hop and b-boy music.

You have played some major international events such as Mayday and the Love Parade how does that kind of thing compare to being in the studio would you prefer to be in one over the other?
I like to be live in front of a crowd, the studio is whack ..... blahhhh blah blah!

You are one of the few DJs that can play everything from to techno all in one set. Do you see many similarities between the two scenes ?
Yes 2 turntables and people dancing. Thats what my style is, a new but very old zulu kung fu way to rock turntables, not records. In the end the scenes are the same. Power to the people in the streets with the beats, white /black / brown its all from James Brown, make it take it sell it yell it , rap is a word , hip hop is a culture. Culture of the youth no color lines or divisions, just music

Do you think America will even get the techno revolution like Europe has ?
There is a force in America called stupid. It rules the air waves and controls the mind of kids. Techno is not a major love, but house is a feeling I heard somewhere.

How do you feel about the very commercial side of hip hop that is flooding our airwaves at the moment?
Commercial hip hop is just what it is. You know, I like dancing girls, commercial girls or underground girls, hip hop girls, techno girls, house girls, and so on. Music is what it is, let the music play. Just have fun and Dance ya ass off.

With such pop soaked hits firing up the charts right now how hard is it to keep it real and not get caught up in the money making machine?
Just keep it real, yo! Just keep it real pimpin, fuck the new world order and globalisation that is killing the nation. Free your mind, body and soul. Death to hip pop and fake rock, power to the hip hop.

What is in the works for Afrika Islam right now anything you are working you can tell us a little bit about?
My next project, Machine, is the sound of ghetto metal and the true story of my music life. A hip hop, gangster rock, hard techno, musical war. Alien Attack Fuck it down load the music free. Fuck the music industry. Burn all the new movies Better when that shit is free.

You have done a heap of remix work for other artists, do you prefer remixing other artists to making your own music?
Making my own music feels better, to me... We are all robots and slaves to the machine, I have a computer brain and remixes are new art anyway. The DJ is the artist, the music is his canvas, show him some love.

Having accomplished so much do you think there will ever come a time when there will be no new challenges for you to undertake?
There is always a new challenge. Like lets get rid of Bush, stop the war and feed the poor

Is there anyone you hope to work with in the future whom you haven't had a chance to as yet?
I want to work with The Prodigy, Jimmy Hendrix, Bob Marley, Mike Tyson, a girl with 3 breasts, and a space alien that breakdances, all together in the studio. That would be cool.

What does the future hold for Afrika Islam?
I will just keep it real and just be Afrika Islam, son of Bambaattaa. Ill get on the decks and wreck and rock the discotek. Respect really hard techno and breakdance music, and hard trance, and tribal music, its all the same just with different names. Music is music, just use it and dont abuse it.


Next Week:
Domeshots & Fat Laces Vol 24: FUNKY FOUR + 1

The Dynamic Hamza 21®

Hip Hop since 1982.

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