Hip Hop co-founder Afrika Bambaataa and his role as the co-founder of the Unversal Hip Hop Museum has sparked some controversy, with an advocacy group demanding the defunding of the recently built museum because of the Hip Hop pioneer’s sexual abuse allegations.
This week, a group called Hip Hop Stands With Survivors put out a letter calling NYC Mayor Eric Adams to halt all taxpayer funding that has been funneled into the UHHM, as well as fire the organization’s Executive Director Rocky Bucano. The letter also calls for all companies such as Microsoft to end their financial relationship with the UHHM.
The letter says, “We expect his resignation or for the board to vote him out of the museum’s leadership and for the museum to sever all ties with Bucano, Bambaataa, and the Zulu Nation.”
n 2019, the State of New York donated a $3.5million grant to the museum. It’s scheduled to open some time in 2023 or 2024 in celebration of Hip Hop’s 50th anniversary.
The protest has been taken to the streets, with an immediate response coming from Mayor Adams.
“The Universal Hip Hop Museum assured the administration that they cut ties with the Universal Zulu Nation and that Afrika Bambaataa has not had a role at the Universal Hip Hop Museum since 2016,” Adams said in a statement.
Executive Director Bucano also released a statement, denying that Bambaataa was ever a board member of the museum and that he was never a member of the Zulu Nation.
His statement says, “The Universal Hip Hop Museum and Mr. Bucano condemn all acts of acts of violence and abuse. I would like to make it clear that Afrika Bambaataa has not had a role at the Universal Hip Hop Museum since 2016. I and the Universal Hip Hop Museum are not party to any activities affiliated with the Universal Zulu Nation I affirm that the Universal Hip Hop Museum is committed to its mission to empower, educate, and uplift communities.” It goes on saying, “While it is true that Afrika Bambaataa was a founding member of the museum, he was removed from any involvement with the museum as soon as the allegations surfaced. He has never been a board member, advisory board member or volunteer. I have never been a member of the Universal Zulu Nation nor am I an agent of the organization or Afrika Bambaataa. The assertion that UHHM is a financial front for the Universal Zulu Nation, Afrika Bambaataa, or other Universal Zulu Nation members, is irresponsible, false, and misdirected.”
Bambaataa was hit with several sexual abuse allegations going back to the 1970s, but has maintained his innocence.
His attorney, Vivian K. Tozaki, issued a statement in 2016 saying, “Recently, 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. 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. Valuable cultural resources, such as Afrika Bambaataa’s good name and time, should never be used to assist a mediocre person’s asinine quest for social media popularity and superficial gain.”