According to Pitchfork, New York Daily News reports that politician and former music industry executive Ronald Savage claims that Bambaataa molested him in 1980, when he was 15 years old. Bambaataa’s representation has acknowledged and denied such claims.
Bambaataa is a South Bronx DJ, who released a series of electronic tracks throughout the 1980’s that defined the hip-hop and electro-funk genres. He is widely known as “The Godfather” and “Amen Ra of Hip Hop Kulture”. His career has since slowed down, but is still active in the music community.
The Bronx executive said Bambaataa molested him multiple times in 1980, when Savage was 15 years old. Savage mentions in a video interview that he has since struggled with intimacy problems since the incident as a consequence of Bambaataa’s actions. He disclosed the information years later to hold Bambaataa accountable and to discover the DJ’s motives behind his actions. Additionally, Savage hopes that sharing his story will influence New York legislators to extend New York’s statute of limitations for statutory rape and underage sex abuse. Today the statue blocks criminal or civil charges after the victim reaches the age of 23. The allegations against Bambaataa were reported by Savage in a self-published 2014 memoir, Impulse, Urges and Fantasies: Life Is a Bag of Mixed Emotions, Vol. 1. He also spoke out about the claim over the airwaves in an interview with Star, a former Hot 97 and Power 105 DJ.
In an interview with the Daily News, Savage reflected on the incident: “I was just a child. Why did he take my innocence away? Why did he do this to me?”
Vivian Kimi Tozaki, Bambaataa’s lawyer, issued the following statement last week:
Defamatory statements were published seeking to harm my client’s reputation so as to lower him in the estimation of the community while deterring others from associating or dealing with him. The statements show a reckless disregard for the truth, were published with knowledge of their falsity, and are being made by a lesser-known person seeking publicity.
The Daily News reports that Bambaataa’s abuses were allegedly reoccurring, with Savage mentioned that there were five separate instances. Check out the Daily News‘ video interview with Savage:
Update: According to Pitchfork, Bambaataa is now facing additional accusations of sexual abuse. Now 39-year-old Hassan Campbell reported to the Daily News that as a 12 and 13-year-old, Bambaataa sexually abused him more than once. Other accusers, who have chosen to not disclose their full names, made similar accusations, one stating that he knows that Savages accusation is true because “he did it to me”. Neither Bambaataa nor his attorney have yet responded to these claims.
Update (4/26): Africa Bambaataa has responded to the growing number of child molestation he faces. In an interview with Lover and Monie Love on “The Ed Lover Show,” Bambaataa made the following statement:
I completely deny all type of accusations that are being put against your brother Afrika Bambaataa… You really need to ask the question, ‘Why now? And what is the hidden agenda behind this?’ Is it because I’m still relevant today trying to help people across the world?
Bambaataa later accused Savage of creating this story to gain publicity to sell his memoir. “It could be me today, and you tomorrow,” Bambaataa told the radio hosts. In response, according to Pitchfork and the Daily News, Savage’s lawyer states that he welcomes a lawsuit from Bambaataa.
Update (5/14): In an interview with a local Fox News channel Bambaataa (source: Stereogum), the South Bronz DJ continues to deny child abuse allegations. See full segment below.
Bambaataa’s alleged victim’s claim they were sexually abused in the 1970’s and 80’s, meaning their accusations fall outside the statute of limitations. The DJ has further responded to the accusations by questioning their claims. “What is the motivation? What is the agenda?” he asked. “You don’t know what many of these are thinking, what is behind it.”
Without using Bambaataa’s name, the long Bambaataa-led Universal Zulu Nation announced that it will select new leadership for the hip hop organization:
This will involve a significant restructure and will feature an in-depth re-assessment of how the organization will function to better serve our communities. As part of this restructure ALL accused parties and those accused of covering up the current allegations of child molestation have been removed and have stepped down from their current positions.