DJ Shadow and Cut Chemist return the spirit of Zulu Nation to New Orleans

Evan Krupp, Contributing Reporter

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DJ Shadow and Cut Chemist have taken on the honor and responsibility of commemorating Afrika Bambaataa, who is considered by many to be the Godfather of hip-hop as a genre and culture. They will perform at 8 p.m. on Sept. 16 at the House of Blues.

As part of their Renegades of Rhythm tour, they will spin the original vinyl records from Bambaataa’s historic collection dedicated to communicating the role he played as an artist, DJ and social thinker.

From a musical standpoint, Bambaataa remains a legend even by modern standards. Every emerging branch of hip-hop in the decades since his debut draws from his influence. Standing at the forefront of the genre, Bambaataa utilized samples from a variety of sources in fusing electronic music, soul, funk, and rock. He effectively made turntablism a style, inspiring some of the most popular dance music of the era.

Perhaps more importantly, Bambaataa, among countless other achievements, played a central role in founding and developing Zulu Nation, a group of artists and others devoted to promoting peace, love and unity. Zulu Nation provided creative outlets for the children of his community. He acted as a global ambassador for hip-hop, held block parties and worked closely with artists to build a more positive youth movement in his neighborhoods.

While hip-hop has in many ways deviated from Bambaataa’s central ethos of love, community and non-violence, you would be hard pressed to find any artists in the genre who don’t respect his work and note his influence as a guiding force. For DJ Shadow and Cut Chemist, the tour acts as a love letter to his creations and an attempt to bring hip-hop back to its roots.

Bambaataa won’t be at the House of Blues in the flesh, but the ideals he set forth for music and for his community will be on full display.