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Afrika Bambaataa raps on early hip-hop

"Most people don't know that rap has always been here. It has come in many different forms throughout our lifetime and many of the songs that you might have heard before ... may have been the hip-hop of that era."

Often credited as the founder of hip-hop, disc jockey Afrika Bambaataa spoke on campus Nov. 27 in the first visit of his three-year term as Cornell's first visiting hip-hop scholar.

In a talk moderated by Richard Medina '92, Bambaataa discussed the origins of hip-hop and the necessity to preserve and maintain the university's hip-hop archives. Bambaataa appeared with b-boy Richard "Crazy Legs" Colón of the Rock Steady Crew and photographer Joe Conzo.

Before its success and integration into mainstream culture, hip-hop was initially a response to social phenomena, gradually evolving into a movement for social change and cultural and ideological diversity.

"Many people didn't recognize it, but when it came to us, we recognized it," Bambaataa said.

"Hip-hop culture is as important a piece of Americana as baseball," Medina noted. "[It] is as important a piece of Americana as any race-related or motivated cultural movement that any of us have experienced."

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