Afrika Bambaataa - Planet Rock - 1982


Afrika Bambaataa's "Planet Rock" (1982) is a groundbreaking track in the history of hip-hop and electronic music. The song, produced by Arthur Baker and the Soulsonic Force, is known for its innovative use of the Roland TR-808 drum machine and samples from Kraftwerk, a pioneering German electronic band. "Planet Rock" played a key role in the evolution of hip-hop music and culture, influencing numerous genres such as electro, breakbeat, and techno.


Afrika Bambaataa, born as Kevin Donovan, emerged from the South Bronx in New York City. He was a key figure in the early development of hip-hop, not just as a musician but also as a DJ and community leader. Bambaataa's work was heavily influenced by his involvement with the Universal Zulu Nation, a group he founded that promoted hip-hop culture and social activism.

The Making of "Planet Rock"

The song "Planet Rock" was a collaborative effort, with Bambaataa working alongside producer Arthur Baker and the Soulsonic Force. It was revolutionary in its use of the Roland TR-808 drum machine, which later became a staple in hip-hop production. The track also famously samples Kraftwerk's "Trans-Europe Express" and "Numbers," blending electronic music with hip-hop for the first time on a large scale.

Influence and Legacy

"Planet Rock" is not only a significant track in hip-hop history but also a key piece in the development of several electronic genres. Its innovative use of synthesizers and drum machines paved the way for genres like electro, breakbeat, and techno. The song's influence extends beyond music, contributing to the culture of DJing, breakdancing, and urban street art.

For more detailed information on the history and impact of "Planet Rock," check out MOOCit.

Interactive Tasks

Quiz: Questions on the song

What groundbreaking equipment was predominantly used in "Planet Rock"? (Roland TR-808 drum machine) (!Electric guitar) (!Turntables) (!Piano)

Which German band's music was sampled in "Planet Rock"? (Kraftwerk) (!The Beatles) (!Scorpions) (!Rammstein)

In what year was "Planet Rock" released? (1982) (!1980) (!1985) (!1978)

Who collaborated with Afrika Bambaataa on "Planet Rock"? (Arthur Baker and the Soulsonic Force) (!Grandmaster Flash) (!DJ Kool Herc) (!The Sugarhill Gang)

What genre did "Planet Rock" significantly influence? (Electro) (!Disco) (!Classic Rock) (!Jazz)

Quiz: Questions on the Performer

What is Afrika Bambaataa's real name? (Kevin Donovan) (!Clarence Williams) (!James Smith) (!Robert Johnson)

Which group did Afrika Bambaataa found that promoted hip-hop culture and social activism? (Universal Zulu Nation) (!Rock Steady Crew) (!Soul Sonic Force) (!The Furious Five)

What borough of New York City is Afrika Bambaataa from? (South Bronx) (!Brooklyn) (!Queens) (!Harlem)

What was Afrika Bambaataa's primary role in the hip-hop community? (DJ and community leader) (!Graffiti artist) (!Breakdancer) (!Producer)

Which of these is another famous track by Afrika Bambaataa? ("Looking for the Perfect Beat") (!"Rapper's Delight") (!"The Message") (!"Fight the Power")

Quiz: Questions on the lyrics

What is a key theme of "Planet Rock"? (Fusing different musical styles) (!Social injustice) (!Street life) (!Romance)

Which of these lines is a direct lyric from "Planet Rock"? ("Rock it, don't stop") (!"Fight the power") (!"Life in the fast lane") (!"Under the boardwalk")

How do the lyrics of "Planet Rock" reflect its musical innovation? (They encourage dancing and a celebration of the new sound) (!They tell a story of struggle in the Bronx) (!They focus on love and relationships) (!They are politically charged and activist)

What element of hip-hop culture does "Planet Rock" emphasize through its lyrics? (DJing and breakdancing) (!Graffiti art) (!Rapping about social issues) (!Fashion and style)

The lyrics of "Planet Rock" are most closely associated with which era of hip-hop? (The early, experimental phase) (!The golden age) (!The gangsta rap era) (!The modern mainstream era)


Afrika Bambaataa Kevin Donovan
"Planet Rock" Sample Kraftwerk
Instrument Used Roland TR-808
Collaborator Arthur Baker
Hip-Hop Culture Promotion Universal Zulu Nation

Open Tasks


  1. Explore the Roland TR-808: Research the Roland TR-808 drum machine and its impact on music production.
  2. Kraftwerk's Influence: Listen to Kraftwerk and identify elements that influenced "Planet Rock."
  3. Breakdancing: Watch breakdancing videos and see how "Planet Rock" might have influenced the dance style.


  1. Creating a Beat: Use a music software to create a beat inspired by "Planet Rock."
  2. Hip-Hop Culture Essay: Write an essay on the influence of "Planet Rock" on hip-hop culture.
  3. Interview: Interview a local DJ or hip-hop artist about the influence of "Planet Rock."


  1. Music Production Analysis: Analyze the production techniques in "Planet Rock."
  2. Cultural Impact Report: Create a report on the socio-cultural impact of "Planet Rock" in the 1980s.
  3. Remix Project: Create a remix of "Planet Rock" that maintains its original essence but adds your own style.

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Oral Exam

  1. Cultural Fusion in Music: Discuss how "Planet Rock" represents cultural fusion in music.
  2. Evolution of Electronic Music: Explore how "Planet Rock" contributed to the evolution of electronic music genres.
  3. The Role of Sampling: Discuss the role and ethics of sampling in music production, using "Planet Rock" as a case study.
  4. Hip-Hop's Early Days: Analyze the importance of the South Bronx in the development of hip-hop, referencing Afrika Bambaataa's work.
  5. The Universal Zulu Nation: Discuss the impact of the Universal Zulu Nation on hip-hop culture and community activism.

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