Today, April 17, marks the 61st birthday of rap pioneer Afrika Bambaataa.

Launching his career at the very advent of hip-hop culture, Bambaataa has played a vital role in hip-hop since its emergence out of the South Bronx more than 40 years ago. A DJ with legendary skill, the newly minted 61-year-old has been responsible for helping the art form of hip-hop transcend cultural barriers, thus garnering titles of "Grandfather" and "Godfather" of hip-hop. From forming the Universal Zulu Nation, a group of socially and politically aware rappers, DJ's and graffiti artists, in the 1970s, Bambaataa has been able to promote hip-hop culture throughout the world.

The legendary figure is responsible for a slew of all-time classic records including 1981's "Jazzy Sensation," 1982's "Planet Rock," the James Brown-duet "Unity" and 1986's critically-acclaimed Planet Rock: The Album. As if those weren't enough accolades, in 2007, Bambaataa was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, joining the likes of Grandmaster Flash and the Furious Five and the Beastie Boys at the time.

Happy Birthday to Afrika!

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