New York – Sounds of Brazil (SOB’s) nightclub denied entry to hip-hop pioneer Afrika Bambaataa on December 22, 2018. Phone calls, emails, social media posts, and an on-site protest against his scheduled appearance were made to the venue by an outraged public.
Bambaataa, who has been accused of molesting boys and having sex with underaged minors over the course of several decades, was billed with DJ Jazzy Jay to host a Saturday night party featuring popular New York DJ’s Kool DJ Red Alert, Funkmaster Flex, and Chuck Chillout.
Word quickly spread that Bambaataa was scheduled to appear and an angry public began campaigning to shut down the show. SOB’s responded by removing Bambaataa from the bill within 24 hours. The Saturday night party would still go on without Bambaataa and a protest planned by the Gathering of Christ Church (GOCC) would still go on as well.
The cold and windy evening of December 22, 2018, began around 4:00 p.m. when nearly 200 people packed the area in front of SOB’s. Some of the protesters had come from as far away as Philadelphia to show solidarity in the demonstration. Bambaataa’s alleged victims were not present but several speakers, male and female, addressed the crowd with their own emotional testimonies of childhood sexual abuse. All of them had the familiar theme of the alleged perpetrators being trusted members of their family, community, or church and how hard it has been to come to terms with their abuse.
In recent years, Bambaataa’s gigs have mostly been overseas in places like Berlin, Switzerland, and Brazil. The booking at SOB’s would have been his first publicized nightclub show in North America since the allegations became front-page news in 2016. This precedent did not go unnoticed and the GOCC vowed to oppose any venue that books Bambaataa.
“We want to tell New York City that they are not allowed and will receive push back from us if they book individuals who have been accused by multiple men of sexual abuse. Today, any organization that will book Afrika Bambaataa in New York before he faces his accusers, we will be protesting them. Every single time.” said Elder Gabar.
The New York statute of limitations was also a point of contention during the protest. The current statute demands that a victim must pursue criminal and civil action against an alleged predator by the age of 23. The Child Victims Act seeks to lengthen the current statute of limitations requirement and is due to be voted on in the New York Senate.
Around 5:30 p.m., DJ Jazzy Jay arrived and appeared to be astonished by the protest. He mouthed the word, “WOW,” over and over as he viewed the signs and made his way to the entrance. Hip-hop photographer Joe Conzo was also there during the protest and quickly snatched Jazzy Jay away from the scene.
Elder Gabar took to the mic, “Jazzy Jay, I’m a Bronx boy! We love hip-hop. My daughter loves hip-hop. You need to come out here and speak to us.” The crowd began chanting, “Jazzy Jay Come Out and Speak, Jazzy Jay Come Out and Speak!”
DJ Jazzy Jay did not return outside and the focus turned to Peter Latse, the general manager of SOB’s. “Peter! Come Out and Speak. Peter! Come Out and Speak,” chanted the crowd.
After a short time, Peter Latse addressed the protesters.
The protest ended at approximately 6:00 p.m. and the crowd eventually dispersed. A few hours later, none of the protesters were still there when Bambaataa arrived at SOB’s and was denied entry to the club. Phone calls to SOB’s have not been returned and this writer has been unable to confirm rumors that after Bambaataa was denied entry, his cohorts went inside the club and demanded Funkmaster Flex to stop spinning.
Strangely, Funkmaster Flex posted a picture on Instagram.
Reportedly, comments on the post became so bad that they had to be disabled.