KRS-One Says Anyone Who Has A Problem With Afrika Bambaataa Should Quit Hip-Hop (Video)
KRS-One recently appeared in Birmingham, England, speaking before a live audience. In a video published July 15, the Boogie Down Productions co-founder and MC legend spoke about allegations of sexual abuse made against one of Hip-Hop’s pioneers, Afrika Bambaataa. The longtime friend and collaborator of Bam’ argued that major agencies are out to bring down one of Hip-Hop’s founders, and that the ongoing accusations should be scrutinized.
“We’re sitting here with no evidence, no conviction—nothing but accusations,” declared Kris. At least four men have come forward through social and traditional media against the legendary cultural figure and DJ born Kevin Donovan with accusations of sexual abuse. Those incidents are said to have begun when the men were minors. Bronx, New York 12th Judicial District Delegate Ronald Savage was the first of the four, speaking out in a series of recorded interviews, beginning in March. Savage, a former member of the Universal Zulu Nation, had previously self-published a book using pseudonyms for the onetime leader of the organization. Ronald stated that he was 13 years old when the sexual abuse began in their mutual home of the Bronx. Three other other men, including Hasan Campbell, came forth with similar accounts in mid-April. The two other men did not use their full names, reportedly out of fear and shame. Lord Shariyf, a former bodyguard for Bambaataa, also publicly accused Bambaataa of molesting hundreds of boys.
As Ronald Savage’s initial accusation surfaced, the Universal Zulu Nation and Bambaataa’s attorney denied the claims. In May, the U.Z.N. released a statement that Bam’ and other parties associated with the accusations had been dismissed.
Part of the statement read as follows: “As an organization we are in a very difficult position because we are being asked to condemn one of our founders based on testimony through social media alone. We cannot do this. We also cannot dismiss the comments of parties asserting they have been harmed. We have a duty to search for truth. We also need to be mindful that if these allegations are true that victims discussing this in a public forum has not come easily. We the Universal Zulu Nation wish to extend great sympathy to anyone affected by such issues. We know that respect and compassion need to be at the forefront of how we deal with such topics in the future, this has been a lesson in learning for us.”
Prior to the changes at the U.Z.N., a late April interview with N.O.R.E. & DJ EFN’s Drink Champs Podcast, KRS-One stated his opinions on the allegations against the onetime leader of the Universal Zulu Nation and “Planet Rock” hit-maker.
At that time, KRS-One was quoted as saying the following: “For me, if you keep it Hip-Hop, nothing can be taken away from Afrika Bambaataa. Nothing. Just keepin’ [it] Hip-Hop. But if you want to dig into dude’s personal life and accusations that’s being made and so on, personally—me personally—I don’t give a fuck. Personally. Look, if somebody was harmed or whatever—y’all gotta deal with that shit. Deal with it. That don’t stop Hip-Hop. That don’t stop what you did for Hip-Hop. It don’t take away none of it—history is history. But deal with that. That’s personal. I don’t even know what to say past the [basics]. A person like me, I deal with dudes that are questionable all the time—not just if the accusation is rape, I know dudes that are dealing with [all kinds of accusations], you know what I’m sayin’? If you know anybody from prison, if you know anybody from the shelter, if you know anybody—if you live, really in the hood, you know shooters, you know dudes runnin’ from the cops, you know your man might have an open warrant on him right now! Like, right now! I’m not judgin’ these mothafuckas, man! That’s my nigga right here, yo. That’s it! Now what you do, and your crime, and your bullshit, and your shit, and whatever you’re doing, that’s on you. That’s you, my G.”
The MC would clarify those remarks in a May after facing criticism for the remarks. Care of his site, the New Yorker wrote, “…it is not that I don’t care at all about the accusations made against Afrika Bambaataa; I am saddened at the whole controversy and how it is being handled. It is not that I don’t care, it is more the fact that I don’t gossip, I don’t take sides in real disputes that don’t concern me, I don’t slander people’s names and I don’t believe in abandoning your friends when they may be accused of crimes or make mistakes in life.”
In the most recent discussion with a moderator, KRS appeared to maintain his views on separating one’s accomplishments from their potential crimes and transgressions. “When you’re talking about Afrika Bambaataa, first of all, you’re talking about the person who invented Hip-Hop—not ‘participated in.’ There was no ‘Hip-Hop’ before Afrika Bambaataa, let’s start there.” In a major statement, KRS urged, “Anyone who has a problem with Afrika Bambaataa should quit Hip-Hop.”
The 30-plus-year MC and Universal Zulu Nation member continued, “Let me tell you what I could care less about: accusations and gossip. KRS-One does not get involved in that. Show me the evidence and I will definitely have justice done.”
However, KRS-One appeared to argue for some immunity towards Hip-Hop leaders—at least in perception. “Our leadership has to be untouchable or they’re not leaders!” Kris pointed to law enforcement and politicians as systems that defend leaders. “Check out who’s shooting at us, who’s killing us, who’s locking us up. You see how they do their leadership? Their leadership rapes people, kills people, does awful [things to people], lies to the American public, but they still go, ‘Wait, we can debate their shortcomings. But they’re still the leader.’ And this is what Black people do not understand. We never understood [it], and it’s time that at least Hip-Hop understands this: some of us are infallible. Some of us are going to have to be untouchable or our entire culture is going to fall. Our entire culture cannot fall [due to] the accusations of four people. That’s weak!”
He continued, “[Hip-Hop] almost has [fallen], because we don’t realize how the FBI, and the NSA, and the CIA, and these people are trying to destroy us. So if you know that you have government and corporate agencies trying to—they’re not even trying to destroy us, they’re trying to destroy Afrika Bambaataa. Okay, they’re trying to kill him.”
Less than one year ago, KRS-One joined The Rocksteady Crew’s Crazy Legs and others in a campaign to honor Afrika Bambaataa. Previously, in addition to many speaking events, Bam’ appeared on KRS’ Keep Right album, and on his KRS-One Presents Peedo & The Luna Empire releases.
KRS places that relationship above the accusations of the four men. “I studied with Bam’. I’ve worked with Bam’ for 30 years. Okay, these accusations [result in me saying] ‘Yo Bam’, you have to deal with that.’ And that’s my dude. Bam’ is my friend; that’s my dude. You still have to deal with that.”
No formal charges have been filed against Afrika Bambaataa by any of his four accusers, likely because the time frame in which they would have needed to have been brought exceed the statute of limitations regarding such matters.