Afrika Bambaataa is one of the fathers of hip hop.
His original name was Kevin Donovan. He was born in 1957 and grew up in The Bronx. As a child, he heard a lot about the black liberation movement, and was a founding member of the street gang, The Black Spades.
Donovan's life changed when he won an essay contest that earned him a trip to Africa. His visits to African communities inspired him to want to to stop the violence and create a peaceful community in his own New York Bronx neighborhood.
In Africa, he was also inspired to change his name to Afrika Bambaataa Aasim, the name of a Zulu chief who led a popular rebellion in South Africa.
Afrika Bambaataa returned to the US and began to think about how he could turn his gang skills to peacemaking.
Bambaataa was a music lover and had a huge collection of records. Along with other DJs, Bambaataa began to host South Bronx block parties. Here, the DJs mixed songs from different records together and started to use the term "hip hop" to describe this new culture of music, lyrics, dancing, and art. Hip hop soon became a way for African Americans to express the hardships of city life.
Bambaataa formed the Universal Zulu Nation and tried to use hip hop to keep angry kids out of gangs. Many artists and gang members say that hip hop saved their lives.
In 2012, Afrika Bambaataa's work was recognized and he was given a three year appointment as a visiting scholar at Cornell University.