Long before labels like Cash Money and Def Jam became virtual hip-hop teams, and long before East Coast/West Coast was a rivalry, there was the Universal Zulu Nation. Formed and founded by Bronx emcee and DJ Afrika Bambaataa in 1973, The Organization (as it was called then) served to reform gang members through culture, and much of that culture formed into hip-hop music. Although hip-hop as a genre has changed drastically, the Zulu Nation still exists, and it will celebrate its 40th anniversary throughout the week with concerts.
The peak of the week will certainly be Friday night's show at the National Black Theater in Harlem. Bambaataa will DJ, joined by a host of rappers representing the old school (but still as relevant as ever): Ice Cube, Public Enemy, Ice T, the Ultramagnetic MCs, and Naughty Nation (formerly Naughty by Nature) will headline, along with additional DJing by DJ Jazzy Jay and Kool DJ Herc among others.
That lineup unto itself is staggering. However, it seems anyone interested will have to buy the $70 fun pass (which gets you into all events throughout the week). If you happen to be a Zulu Nation member, then you can get tickets for either $20 or $30.
The rest of the week is still great for all those invested in hip-hop history. Wednesday night will be a showcase for Zulu Nation Japan at the Fat Buddha Bar on the lower East Side, Q-Tip and 9th Wonder will join a host of DJ's for the "Throwdown" Saturday night at the National Black Theater, and kids can check out Wednesday's UZN Family Day at the Johnson Community Center in Harlem.
Film screenings and discussions also pepper the packed schedule. Check out zulunation.com for all details.