Gapers Block has ceased publication.

Gapers Block published from April 22, 2003 to Jan. 1, 2016. The site will remain up in archive form. Please visit Third Coast Review, a new site by several GB alumni.
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Wednesday, March 29

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DJ / Dance Mon Aug 25 2008

Keeper of the Perfect Beat: Afrika Bambaataa Returns to Chicago

From the sound of top-40 radio these past couple of years, you'd think that a good portion of the pop-music industry had been taken over by robots. Little surprise that there's been talk in some quarters lately of a grassroots backlash -- something along the lines of a Citizen's Council for a 15-Year Moratorium Against the Use of the Vocoder. But back in 1982 when deejay Afrika Bambaataa and his crew the Soulsonic Force delivered "Planet Rock," synthesized vocals were still very much a novelty. An instant dance-club smash and b-boy anthem, "Planet Rock" was a hybrid of Kraftwerk keyboard riffs undergirded with liquidic rhythms and 808 kicks, and sported a crowd-rousing cybernetic call of Bam asking party people, "Can y'all get funk-ay?" As history shows, the answer was a unanimous yes. Not only did the tune birth a new breed of boom called electro-funk, but it also inspired more than a few producers down South to take a few moments off from contemplating thongs, turn their attention to some other low-end affairs, and engineer the Miami Bass sound.

It was, however, Bambaataa's work as a pioneering DJ in the 1970s that earned him the title "Godfather of Hip-Hop." And while that may have been three-plus decades ago, he hasn't shown any signs of waxing complacent or slacking off to rest on any honorific laurels. On the decks, Bam's kept his game up. He demonstrated as much when he was in Chicago back in January of last year to spin a headlining set at Smart Bar. He entered the DJ booth donned in a silver lamé hood-and-cloak affair, which he soon shed for optimum mobility as he got busy with the wax and wheels. For the remainder of the night, he threw a long, tight, and relentless set of old-school joints that kept the dancefloor packed and jumping for the full duration. It was lively, it was dope, and it left a good many attendees sore from dancing for a few days thereafter.

So if you missed it last time, this weekend's your chance to recoup. Afrika Bambaataa will be returning to town to play a headlining set at Smart Bar this Friday night. DJs Tone B Nimble and Intel will be spinning in the warm-up slots. 3730 N. Clark St. Doors open at 10 PM and tickets are $15.

[video]: Soulsonic Force - "Planet Rock"
[video]: Soulsonic Force - "Looking for the Perfect Beat"

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Feature Thu Dec 31 2015

Our Final Transmission Days

By The Gapers Block Transmission Staff

Transmission staffers share their most cherished memories and moments while writing for Gapers Block.

Read this feature »


  Chicago Music Media

Alarm Magazine
Big Rock Candy Mountain
Boxx Magazine
Brooklyn Vegan Chicago
Can You See The Sunset From The Southside
Chicago Reader Music
Chicagoist Arts & Events
Chicago Music Guide
Chicago Singles Club
Country Music Chicago
Cream Team
Dark Jive
The Deli Chicago
Jim DeRogatis
Fake Shore Drive
Gowhere Hip Hop
The Hood Internet
Jaded in Chicago
Largehearted Boy
Little White Earbuds
Live Fix Blog
Live Music Blog
Loud Loop Press
Oh My Rockness
Pop 'stache
Pop Matters
Resident Advisor
Sound Opinions
Sun-Times Music Blog
Theft Liable to Prosecution
Tribune Music
UR Chicago
Victim Of Time
WFMU's Beware of the Blog
Windy City Rock


Abbey Pub
Andy's Jazz Club
Aragon Ballroom
Auditorium Theatre
Beat Kitchen
Bottom Lounge
Buddy Guy's Legends
The Burlington
California Clipper
Concord Music Hall
Congress Theater
Cubby Bear
Double Door
Elbo Room
Empty Bottle
Green Mill
The Hideout
Honky Tonk BBQ
House of Blues
Kingston Mines
Lincoln Hall
Logan Square Auditorium
Mayne Stage
The Mutiny
Old Town School of Folk Music
Park West
The Promontory
Red Line Tap
Reggie's Rock Club & Music Joint
The Riviera
Thalia Hall
The Shrine
Symphony Center
Tonic Room
Uncommon Ground
The Vic
The Whistler

  Labels, Promoters
  & Shops:

Alligator Records
Beverly Records
Bloodshot Records
Dave's Records
Delmark Records
Drag City
Dusty Groove
Flameshovel Records
Groove Distribution
He Who Corrupts
Jam Productions
Jazz Record Mart
Kranky Records
Laurie's Planet of Sound
Minty Fresh
Numero Group
mP Shows
Permanent Records
Reckless Records
Smog Veil Records
Southport & Northport Records
Thick Records
Thrill Jockey Records Touch & Go/Quarterstick Records
Victory Records

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Transmission is the music section of Gapers Block. It aims to highlight Chicago music in its many varied forms, as well as cover touring acts performing in the city. More...
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