Afrika Bambaataa And The Messiest Sex Abuse Case Ever, Explained
Four allegations, one official statement, and a shocking letter from Zulu Nation.
In Late March, the hip-hop world was rocked by one of the most chilling and disturbing accusations that has ever hit the community: Afrika Bambaataa, the "Godfather of Rap," was accused of sexual assault against a minor. Since the accuser came forward, Afrika Bambaata's camp has issued two statements, three more men have spoken out, and a representative of the Zulu Nation has come out in defense of the alleged victims. Read below for a full timeline of the messiest case ever.
March 29th: Legendary Hip-Hop Radio Personality Star Interviews Ronald "Bee-Stinger" Savage, Bambaataa's First Public Accuser
Ronald Savage, former NY State Democratic Committee Member and music industry executive, spoke with Star about his memoir Impulse, Urges, and Fantasies, which was published in 2014. In the book, Savage detailed his 13-14 year old self being sexually abused by the pioneer of rap.
“I was a kid when this happened,” said Savage, 50 years old. “I wanted to be down with the in-crowd, not really understanding that what Bambaataa was doing to me was molesting me. I knew it was wrong. I had these feelings that were like, ‘Yuck.’” The accuser, formally known as "Bee-Stinger" in the Zulu Nation, went on to graphically explain his encounters with Bambaataa, detailing a scared and confused little boy experiencing his first sexual encounter by way of an older and socially powerful man. This interview caused a whirlwind of reports, articles, and speculation to follow.
April 6th: A Second Man, Anonymous, Speaks Out About Sexual Abuse Allegations Against Bambaataa
This man, also 51 years of age, took the opportunity to share his story anonymously. In his interview with Star, Anonymous stated he was "not exposing" his real name to protect his identity because of his profession and personal life. His story is a bit different than Ronald's, because he was 17 at the time of the alleged act. He says he met Bambaata through the Zulu Nation at the height of his career, right after the release of "Party Rock." He was invited over to Bam's apartment in the Bronx and the two engaged in oral acts upon each other, he claims. Afterwards, he was asked to recruit other friends to "come over," but Bam made it clear that he was not going to "do any favors," and would not be assisting him with his music career. He stated that the reason he chose to speak out was because of Ronald's story and the uncanny resemblance it had to his own.
April 8th: Vivian Kimi Tozaki, Bambaataa's Attorney, Released A Statement In Defense Of Her Client
“Recently, 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," said Bambaataa's attorney Tozaki in a statement. "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. Valuable cultural resources, such as Afrika Bambaataa’s good name and time," she continued, "should never be used to assist a mediocre person’s asinine quest for social media popularity and superficial gain.”
April 10th: A Third Accusation Of Sexual Abuse Comes From Hassan "Poppy" Campbell, 39 Years Old
"He had the most fun house in the world," said Campbell to the Daily Mail. "There were celebrities there, musicians, neighborhood heroes. It was the best place to be - and the worst place to be." The worst place, because at the age of 12-13, Campbell recalls being sexually abused numerous times by Bambaataa. "He is a pervert. He likes little boys." Campbell, known as Poppy to the Zulu Nation, revealed his belief that there is a cover-up. Campbell says he posted an angry video accusing Bambaataa of sexual abuse several months ago but took it down after Bambaataa's people and some Zulu Nation officials agreed to meet with him. Campbell claims that Bambaataa apologized to him in this closed meeting, and promised that he would seek help and open a center for troubled youth. "He never did any of those things," Campbell said. "He's a manipulator and a liar. He's just waiting for this chaos to blow over so he can go back to his dark, dingy hole and go back to his old ways. He needs to put down the candy and let the little boys go."
April 12th: Afrika Bambaataa's Camp Issues Public Statement Against Accusations
In a statement released to Rolling Stone, with guidance from his lawyer Vivian Kimi Tozaki and counsel, Afrika Bambaataa denied claims or "any and all allegations of any type of sexual molestation of anyone," referring to Ronald Savage, Hassan Campbell, and Anonymous. "These allegations are baseless and are a cowardly attempt to tarnish my reputation and legacy in hip-hop at this time," wrote Bambaataa. "This negligent attack on my character will not stop me from continuing my battle and standing up against the violence in our communities, the violence in the nation and the violence worldwide." He continued by asking his community and fans for prayer, inquiring that we "help change our ways on how we treat each other in evilness." "Who would stand up to save us and our planet with so much chaos going on?" he asked.
April 12th: A Fourth Accusation Of Sexual Abuse Comes From Troy, 51 Years Old
Very much in accord with the other stories, Troy describes himself as a young boy around 12-13 years old when he came into contact with the hip-hop superstar, Afrika Bambaataa. Taking place in a similar Bronx apartment as described in the past, Troy went to the complex to visit his then-girlfriend, a girl around his same age. After learning that the rapper lived in the building, he went to visit and found him home alone when he was invited inside. It was during this interaction that Bambaataa allegedly showed him polaroid portraits of members of the Zulu Nation holding their genitals with other young boys from the neighborhood. Bambaataa was speculated to be in his 20s at the time he's accused of molesting Troy. Similar to the previous men, he describes the experience of leaving him with an uncomfortable feeling of disgust and trauma.
April 18th: Members Of The Zulu Nation Contest Bambaataa's Statement, Says His Camp Is Not Representive Of The Zulu Nation
On this day, members of the Zulu Nation (a hip-hop awareness group founded by Bambaataa) signed an open letter that strongly sides with the victims.
"It is with this legacy in heart and mind that we, practitioners, artists, activists/organizers, and scholars of Hip Hop are asking our communities to join us in acknowledging all the victims that have stepped forward to tell their truth," the letter says. "We thank pioneer Paradise Grey for inspiring this challenging conversation. We recognize Ronald Savage and Hassan Campbell for their brave decision to come forward publicly; when we know even in 2016 America, victims are often the ones blamed, shunned, and bullied," it continues. Read the letter in full here.
April 19th: T.C. Izlam Resigns As Spokesman And Splits From The Zulu Nation, Says Zulu Nation Is Separate From Afrika Bambaata
"For years, we've been hearing in the streets 'Bambaataa's gay' but that's his business," T.C. said. "When Poppy came out, I had to make a decision for myself to stand up for this man, and I'm going to stand up. Right now, as of today, I resigned," said the long-time Zulu Nation official. "Since my resignation, I've received 25 death threats... I got tired of the Afrika Bambaata fan club members inside the Universal Zulu Nation causing a lot of hindrance... The Universal Zulu Nation is entirely separate from Bambaataa's life." Izlam, who's known the second accuser, Poppy, since he was young, said "Poppy is not a liar," and confirmed the meeting he discussed indeed had happened. He continued: "I cannot support any type of pedophile, whether it's from Bambaataa or a family member." Listen in full here.
April 20th: Bambaataa Denies All Claims On 'Ed Lover's Show'
In an on-air interview with Ed Lover and Monie Love, Afrika Bambaataa says "You need to ask the question 'why now?' and 'what is the hidden agenda behind this?'" He goes on to cite all the good he's done, including his intentions to start a hip-hop museum, his dedication to non-violence, and more. He says these factors contributed to a consipracy against him and the Zulu Nation. Listen in full above.
April 21st: The Mighty Zulu Kingz/Qweenz Worldwide Split From The Zulu Nation
In an official public statement, members of the Mighty Zulu Kingz/Kweens Worldwide, which is a subgroup of the Zulu Nation, announced that they are "hereby declaring [their] organization to operate as its own entity." Although they've legally been their own entity for several years, they have now decided to dismantle any and all ties to the Zulu Nation, stating "we will no longer be associated or be under the umbrella of any other organization" moving forward. MZK will now be the official name of this subgroup moving forward. Read the statement in full here.
To say that things are a bit complicated would be an understatement.