On October 3rd, DJ Shadow and Cut Chemist honored Afrika Bambaataa’s legacy as a pioneer in Hip-Hop culture. The two artists performed at the Hollywood Palladium as a part of their Renegades of Rhythm tour. They emphasized Bambaataa’s impact in developing and spreading Hip-Hop worldwide.
The event showcased select records from Bambaataa’s vinyl collection that has been archived by Cornell University. In an interview conducted by WOLFshoes of OthermusiC, Cut Chemist compared experiencing their Renegades of Rhythm set to a “touring museum,” in which the records are the historical artifacts. In this regard, one could consider DJ Shadow and Cut Chemist the curators of this historic music collection. It was for this very reason that WOLFshoes and I felt it was an absolute necessity to provide coverage on this significant event.
When DJ Shadow and Cut Chemist first took the stage, they began with a short introduction. They explained the importance of understanding the foundation of today’s music as well as the impact Afrika Bambaataa had on music culture. Light-up cutouts of a cityscape surrounded the artists during their show, while a video consisting of screen shots and visuals played as the backdrop to their set. Musical equipment and vinyl surrounded the duo. In front of the artists were six turntables and to their left stood a drum machine from 1967. Bambaataa’s immense vinyl collection filled crates on stage.
As the set began the crowd was filled with excitement, ready to embark upon this musical journey. Shadow and Chemist played sounds ranging from West African drums to Miami bass, and explored genres from disco to break beat. The audience witnessed outstanding scratching and beat juggling techniques that nicely blended the set, musical timeline, and flow.
According to the duo the crowd looked like Planet Rock. The audience reflected the wide array of people Bambaataa introduced to Hip-Hop throughout the world. The crowd consisted of all ages, races, and musical lifestyles. It was reassuring to see one event unite people from such diverse backgrounds. While some audience members enjoyed the music deep in the crowd, others listened off to the sides as they huddled around break dancing circles and watched b-boys and b-girls flip in the air. At one point both Shadow and Chemist dedicated a part of their set to the break-dancers since they play such a vital role in the Hip-Hop culture. The duo asked all the b-boys and b-girls to take the middle of the dance floor and display their exceptional dance skills as a spotlight shined down on them as the music continued to play.
As seamlessly as the show began, it ended. It was midnight and the journey through Hip-Hop and Afrika Bambaataa’s historic vinyl collection was over. It seemed like the set ended too soon and all the audience longed for was a second night, a second show, a second journey through time. The historical significance, musical selection, visuals, and crowd made this show a once in a lifetime experience. If given the opportunity to attend the Renegades of Rhythm tour, it is strongly recommended that you do so. The experience will leave you with a better understanding of the development of Hip-Hop culture and your soul will be inspired.
In the words of Cut Chemist “if you are into music and you want to be a DJ, if you don’t want to be a DJ and you still listen to music and you like Hip-Hop, if you don’t like Hip-Hop, it’s still a great show.”