Afrika Bambaataa & the Soulsonic Force – Planet Rock
By Charlie Goodrich Monday, 17 Nov 2008

Afrika Bambaataa started a revolution. “Rappers Delight” performed by The Sugarhill Gang in the late 1970’s established early rap/hip-hop. This song created a beat and rhythm that would be used by almost every rap artist until the mid 1980’s. Bambaataa’s 1986 album Planet Rock was the next step in the evolution of hip-hop. He and the Soulsonic Force introduced turntables and electronic drum beats to the genre and pioneered hip-hop’s popularity. His formula inspired and was duplicated by countless rappers. Bambaataa is also responsible for spreading hip-hop to Europe, Asia, and Africa. His contribution garnered Bambaataa the nickname Godfather of hip-hop. Today’s hip-hop still shows signs of Bambaataa’s work, as he is the most influential figure in rap history. Planet Rock was the first full album that showcased what direction hip-hop would take in the near future. It should be added that Planet Rock (while an album) is actually a compilation of singles dating back to 1982. The song “Looking for the Perfect Beat” flawlessly sums up this album by saying there are many different types of music in the world but some people may not be satisfied with those types so something new must be created. Bambaataa experiments with different electro/synthesizer sounds to create the backbone of each song and ultimately creates a new style of music for the world to hear. This new sound comes across as a combination of funk’s timing, hip-hop’s flow, and electro’s rhythm. Try to imagine the James Brown’s “Papa’s Got a Brand New Bag”, Public Enemy’s “Power to the People”, and “Herbie Hancock’s “Rockit” all coming together. That is the sound Planet Rock produces. It’s fascinating to listen twenty years after Planet Rock was made and being

able to hear many of the elements in music today that evolved from this point. There are no fillers or weak points to be found on Planet Rock (with only seven tracks it would be sad if one was a filler). But a few songs do stick out as being stronger than the others. “Planet Rock”, “Looking for the Perfect Beat”, and “Renegades of Funk” dominate this album and make it a classic. If you think “Renegades of Funk” has a familiar ring to it, that is because Rage Against the Machine covered it back in 2000. It’s such an interesting sound and point of origin that all should experience Planet Rock. Even if you aren’t into hip-hop this could easily appeal to you.


One Response to “Afrika Bambaataa & the Soulsonic Force – Planet Rock”

  1. Zach Patterson Says:

    i listened to some of this on youtube…and it’s awesome. i had actually heard some of this before but didn’t realize who it was.

    also, i randomly saw Afrika Bambaataa in a Zune commercial yesterday. talk about a strange coincidence.

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