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Posted at 12:00 PM ET, 01/13/2011

Be specific: What's Afrika Bambaataa listening to?

By Chris Richards

afrikaExpect Afrika Bambaataa to put some go-go into his Sunday set at U Street Music Hall. (Vittorio Zunino Celotto/Getty Images)

Since U Street Music Hall opened its doors last March, we've spent countless nights basking in the underground nightclub's glorious sound system, soaking up strains of techno, house, electro and hip-hop -- all genres that would impossible to imagine without the influence of Afrika Bambaataa.

Now, the legendary DJ is scheduled to appear at U Hall on Sunday for a Martin Luther King Day celebration featuring DJ sets from Fort Knox Five, Jahsonic and Rex Riddem.

Click Track asked Bambaataa about what he'll be spinning -- and what else he's been listening to, lately.

On the importance of a good sound system:

You're not really in control. So you get the engineer, who is in control, to give you the best quality sound as possible. Sometimes things mess up, sometimes it's perfect, and sometimes you get some equipment that might sound like tin cans. And that can really annoy you -- especially if the people can't feel the power of the music.

On hip-hop as a global phenomenon:

Everybody used to try and rap like Americans. I would try to tell them, No, speak your native language. Speak on your issues... If you want to use some of the English language, [that's fine], but speak in your own native tongues and speak about what you want to speak about. Now we have great stars and hip-hop artists in many different cultures and many different countries. There's an international flavor of hip-hop culture.

On the state of hip-hop radio:

I don't like what's going on with so-called radio program directors. The internet and the satellite stations? Those are great. But the major stations -- it's like brainwash. They play the same 10 or 15 records over and over. It's not just hip-hop. There's funk, soul, R&B, house, techno, rock, country, western... Play the old with the new, the new with the old all day long.

On what he's listening to these days:

There's David Starfire. Masters of Illusion ... A whole bunch of people out there. I like a lot of Indian music that's coming out... All of these DJs putting out this jump-up music. In hip-hop, there's still Twista and stuff like that... There's a lot of interesting stuff out there.

On what he'll play on Sunday:

Whatever makes the people get funky and dance. But I always give tribute back to the music of D.C. and that's go-go... Chuck Brown, R.E., E.U. Gotta keep their stuff alive.

By Chris Richards  | January 13, 2011; 12:00 PM ET
Categories:  Be specific  | Tags:  Afrika Bambaataa  
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