Hip hop pioneer Afrika Bambaataa has denied accusations that he sexually abused a former member of his Universal Zulu Nation. In a statement to Rolling Stone, Bambaataa says the accusations levied upon him by Ronald Savage “are baseless and are a cowardly attempt to tarnish my reputation and legacy in hip-hop at this time.”
“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,” Bambaataa says in a statement to Rolling Stone. “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.”
In Savage’s self-published memoir Impulse Urges and Fantasies, the former music exec accuses Bambaataa of molesting him when he was 15; Bambaataa was 23 years old at the time of the first alleged incident. The Bronx-raised Savage served as a “crate boy” – the nickname for neighborhood kids who helped haul records for DJs – before becoming friends with the Planet Rock musician and the Zulu Nation.
“It was just about fun, hanging out, listening to music,” Savage told the Daily News, who first reported on Savage’s claims. “I had a big name on the street. I was the youngest of the Zulu Nation. Nobody bothered me back then because nobody messed with the Zulu Nation.”
However, after Savage cut school one afternoon to hang out at Bambaataa’s apartment, the first alleged incident took place, with Savage accusing the DJ of fondling him. On another occasion, Savage accuses Bambaataa of forcing him to give oral sex to another Zulu Nation member. “I hated myself,” Savage said. “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.” Savage eventually parted ways with the Zulu Nation.
In a statement to the Daily News, Bambaataa’s lawyer Vivian Kimi Tozaki dismissed the accusations laid forth in Savage’s memoir. “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,” she said. “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.”
Chuck Freeze of the Jazzy Five, a one-time Zulu Nation associate, confirmed that Savage was a member of the collective in the mid-Eighties to the Daily News. Savage provided the newspaper with an audiotape of what he claims contains a conversation between himself and two members of the Zulu Nation who offered him $50,000 to keep his allegations quiet. “Neither of the two men were given authority to speak on Bam’s behalf,” Tozaki said, adding that she had no knowledge of the taped conversation.
Rather than seeking money, Savage says he hopes his plight will convince lawmakers to change the current statute of limitations on sexual abuse charges; the current New York law bars child sexual abuse victims from pursuing criminal charges or civil penalties after their 23rd birthday.
“In the name of the Supreme Force, who is called by many names, whom All Praise is due. Good Spiritual Human, I pray for all of you and ask in returns your prayers, and let us all do what we must to help change our ways on how we treat each other in evilness, to respect and love for each other as Humans Beings,” Bambaataa continues in his statement. “May Peace and Blessings be upon each and everyone of you. Who would stand up to save us and our planet with so much chaos going on? Peace, Love, Honor and Respect to all.”