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Afrika Bambaataa Calls Sexual Abuse Allegations 'A Cowardly Attempt to Tarnish My Reputation'

David Corio/Redferns
Afrika Bambaataa portrait at Celluloid Records, London, UK, 1983.

Following claims that he had sexually abused a former member of the Zulu Nation, Afrika Bambaataa has broken his silence. In a statement sent to Rolling Stone, the hip-hop icon called the allegations phony.

"I, Afrika Bambaataa, want to take this opportunity at the advice of my legal counsel to personally deny any and all allegations of any type of sexual molestation of anyone," the statement read. "These allegations are baseless and are a cowardly attempt to tarnish my reputation and legacy in hip-hop at this time. 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."

The allegations against the "Godfather of Hip-Hop" -- who founded the Zulu Nation to promote unity as well as the hip-hop arts and was responsible for the 1982 hit with the Soulsonic Force "Planet Rock" -- stemmed from former music executive and author Ronald Savage, who claimed in his self-published memoir Impulse Urges and Fantasies, that Bambaataa allegedly sexually abused him in 1980, inflicting "deep emotional wounds." 

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He recalls an instance at Bambaataa's apartment, where the DJ pioneer was described as fondling himself and a then-13-year-old Savage before inviting another man to join as well as allegedly ordering Savage to perform oral sex on an older Zulu Nation member. “I hated myself,” Savage told the New York Daily News, who first reported the story on April 9. “I don’t even know why I did that. I don’t even know how he got me to do that. It was like I was hypnotized.”

The international spokesman of the Zulu Nation, King Kamonzi, issued a statement to XXL earlier this month, denying the allegations. "Once again, rumors, slander and outright lies have been aimed at Afrika Bambaataa and the Universal Zulu Nation," it read. "First of all this attack not only is defamation and assasination of character it is a diversion and attention shift tactic designed to counter all the positive works of the Universal Zulu Nation."

"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,” Bambaataa's lawyer Vivian Kimi Tozaki also told The Daily News. “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.”

Bambaataa's lawyer and a rep from the Zulu Nation were not immediately available for comment.