Afrika Bambaataa, Tone B. Nimble, Intel, Sam Flores Critic's Choice Early Warnings (Music) Member Picks Recommended Soundboard

When: Fri., Aug. 29, 10 p.m. 2008

Hip-hop wasn’t always hemmed about with rules and orthodoxies spelling out what was or wasn’t allowed. When the style was brand-new it crackled with anarchic energy that attracted lots of eccentrics and far-out thinkers—and few got as far out as Afrika Bambaataa. An Afrocentric electro extraterrestrial—like Sun Ra with a taste for Kraftwerk records—Bambaataa not only helped introduce harder synthetic sounds into the funk- and disco-based rap of the time, he also converted a bunch of street gangs into a politico-spiritual Zulu Nation and helped foster the idea of hip-hop as a multidisciplinary movement encompassing dance and visual art. His most commercially successful work, the deeply funky 1982 single “Planet Rock,” is only a footnote as far as most people are concerned, but whether you know it or not Bambaataa’s ideas have had as much impact on the past 20 years of global culture as Bill Gates’s. He’ll spin records here. The cover charge is discounted to $10 before 11 PM with a text-message special (see smartbarchicago.com). —Miles Raymer

Price: $15

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