October 18, 1991 at 04:00 AM EDT

The Decade of Darkness

Current Status
In Season
Afrika Bambaataa
We gave it a B

Nearly 10 years ago, DJ Afrika Bambaataa took his crew of street-side rappers, the Zulu Nation, to downtown clubland, where he mixed their raw rhythms and rhymes with the high-tech slickness of European dance music. Bambaataa was dubbed Grandpa Bam for pioneering hip-hop (and hip-house), most memorably with ”Planet Rock,” which took the slick electronics of Kraftwerk’s ”Trans-Europe Express” to a totally new destination: the South Bronx. On Decade of Darkness, Bam returns to his early ’80s roots by reworking this hit and dubbing it ”Electro Funk Express.” Unfortunately, much of the album consists of similar recycling, but some tracks stand out — the beat-heavy ”Taste the Funk,” the taut, Prince-like ”Sweat,” and the soulful ”Freedom.” These days, Bam’s once underground hip-house has become the stuff of Coca-Cola Classic commercials, thanks to C+C Music Factory. But unlike most of the trendy hip-house imitators currently working, he has grit and soul. This album is one good street party, put together by an old master. B

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