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A Culture of Celebration

November is Hip-Hop History month and this year marks the 38th anniversary of the Universal Zulu Nation. Not familiar? Hip-Hop is a cultural phenomenon that swept the globe and infiltrated every facet of the business market. What started in the early 1970's in the Bronx and was chiefly relegated to the urban corners of this nation's cities, is now present in car commercials, fashion fairs and even classrooms.

Since DJ Kool Herc and contemporaries began extending the beat breaks of Disco and R&B records to allow dancers to keep breaking it down, Hip-Hop has continued to grow.

Fueling this expansion and carrying it across the globe is the Universal Zulu Nation. Mixing rap and funk music with an emphasis on positivity and self-awareness, Godfather of Hip-Hop Afrika Bambaataa started a revolution.

Inspired by the 1960's film "Zulu", the former Black Spades gang leader decided to use the budding musical genre to unify inner city youths that were otherwise at odds. The Soulsonic Force figurehead chose to explore the threads that tie people together rather than cling to thematic downfalls that plague the impoverished and forgotten.

Religious and racial differences, socio-economic and education gaps, stereotypical divides are all overcome through the elements of Hip-Hop. Dj'ing, emceeing, break dancing (a.k.a B-Boying/B-Girling) and graffiti art are subsets within a culture that is predicated on self-expression. Through the fifth element, knowledge-wisdom-understanding, these sects were combined to create a cohesive force that is now almost 40 years strong.

Zulu's (“Amazulu” means people of the heavens) and Hip-Hop fans are encouraged by the music and lifestyle to educate themselves and overcome ignorance and fear-based "isms" that are divisive and cancerous to society. With chapters not just in New York and L.A., but as far reaching as Prague, Brussels, Cape Town, Paris and Japan, Hip-Hop and the Zulu Nation inspire and unify people who might never have otherwise heard or cared about one another.

Stop the violence movements, food and clothing drives and community summits are just some of the ways Zulu Kings, Ahki's and Malika's better their environments. Certainly there are negative elements and ne'er-do-wells in any group, but with an emphasis on overcoming the negative to the positive, the Universal Zulu Nation has long since shed its faux-gang image and become a powerful force in empowering and educating the world's future leaders.

Seeking truth in all things and to eliminate historical error from the conscious minds that embrace change, the Hip-Hop organization that rose from urban violence is now a pillar of peace in cities worldwide and a monument to what can be accomplished through truth and positivity. Happy anniversary to the Universal Zulu Nation, to Hip-Hop in its entirety and to the many who have sacrificed, be it a lot or a little, in making this world a little bit better and a lot more enjoyable.


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