Accusations of sexual assault leveled at hip-hop legend Africa Bambaataa earlier this year sent shock waves through hip-hop circles, compelling leadership changes within his Zulu Nation organization and backlash toward the accusers. Three of those men shared their stories in a new VICE article that details their alleged assaults and the Zulu Nation’s attempts to cover up the abuse with threats and false promises.
The story, published on VICE’s electronic music-focused Thump channel yesterday (October 10), is also available in the publication’s music-focused print issue. Accusers Ron Savage and Hassan Campbell, both of whom previously broke their stories to the New York Daily News, and a man only referred to as Troy each recount sexual assaults that shared common elements: Bambaataa allegedly showing them graphic images before manipulating them into sexual acts. All three men were from impoverished Bronx public housing complexes and came to Bambaataa looking for direction and purpose.
VICE also cited recordings made by Savage that depict Zulu Nation officials’ attempts to intimidate him after his first revelation:
The next day, two top Zulu lieutenants pressured Savage to recant, issuing veiled threats in intimidating conversations that were captured on audiotape by Savage, copies of which I obtained. One of those Zulu leaders, an associate of Ice-T named Mickey Bentson, acknowledged, when I called him in July, that he had pressured Savage because he didn’t want the Zulu Nation “brand” damaged. Bentson also said, among other things, “Suck my dick, fag.” A publicist for Ice-T described Bentson only as the rapper’s “friend” and said: “Ice doesn’t have any comment on this matter.” Savage said he also received a call from a third Zulu official within a day or so of going public, in which he was allegedly offered $50,000 to retract his statements.
An anonymous associate of Bambaataa’s also told VICE about the culture that kept the allegations from going public sooner:
“Bam took the kids who were struggling—the kids who didn’t have good parents and had nothing,” said one longtime DJ associate of Bambaataa’s, who requested anonymity. “It’s all about the money. These guys [in Zulu Nation] are on the payroll—doing security, carrying equipment. A lot of them have felony records. They can’t get other jobs. They needed that paycheck. So they would keep quiet.”
Bambaataa reportedly did not respond to requests for comment.
Read the full piece here, and let us know what you think in the comments.