36: Bambaataa’s Open Archive

A teen grew up in the Bronx in the 70’s when violence, drugs, and poverty were rampant. He was swept up in the gang lifestyle until he went on life-changing trip to Africa after winning an essay contest. He adopted a new name, Afrika Bambaataa, and devoted himself to encouraging peace and positivity through hip hop music and culture. Nearly forty years later, his enormous record collection was briefly on public display in an “Open Archive” before landing in the Cornell University Hip Hop collection. Learn more about Bambaataa’s influence on hip hop culture and the open archiving process in this week’s show featuring Johan Kugelberg.

Note: We discovered after publishing the episode that Afrika Bambaataa’s real name is the subject of debate. Bambaataa legally changed his name years ago and his birth name is actually unknown in the public sphere. According to Johan Kugelberg, It is often incorrectly cited as “Kevin Donovan” based on a printing mistake on a record label that was released years ago. We attempted to confirm the information in advance, but we also included the apparently incorrect “Kevin Donovan” moniker in our episode based on multiple other sources that erroneously contain that information. According to Wax Poetics, this record’s label is the source of the confusion. Kevin Donovan was the leader of the band on the record and not Bambaataa. We regret the error.


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Click here to see a visualization of how many records can be stored on an iPod.

Here are some additional photos from the Open Archive:

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