While some members of the hip-hop community have spoken up against alleged child molestater Afrika Bambaataa, hip-hop as a whole has been quiet. With the help of one of Bambaataa’s accusers, however, producer Jonathan Hay, KXNG Crooked, Truth Ali, and JC Flores speak up on a newly-remixed record.
Hay has teamed with DJBooth for the release of an extended version of “Don’t Close Your Eyes,” a song that features vocals from Ron “Bee Stinger” Savage, the first man to publicly allege that Afrika Bambaataa had molested him as a child in an interview with New York Daily News. Hay said he was inspired to craft the new version after reading our recent story, "For Supporting Afrika Bambaataa, Hip-Hop Should Quit KRS-One."
The original version of the song found Truth Ali, a frequent collaborator of KXNG Crooked, rapping, “I was touched in a way that no kid should have to talk about.” Hay was so moved by the lyric that he decided to remake the song while adding vocals by Savage. Hay replays the notes from Bambaataa’s song “Planet Rock” while Savage speaks out about child molestation and issues a challenge to President Barack Obama.
“Children are being molested every day. I was molested by a world hip-hop icon,” Savage said. “My question is to the President of the United States of America: what are you going to do about the child molestation crisis of America?”
Bambaataa is not mentioned by name, but Hay instead does something more effective: replays one of his songs, "Planet Rock." DJBooth’s most recent story hypothesized that the lack of outrage against Bambaataa may be partially due to today’s listener not knowing much about him, since his prominence was from so long ago.
The song also takes another important role: giving survivors a voice. Truth Ali raps about his victimization, and Savage speaks about his. Empowering survivors of sexual assault to speak about their own experiences is vital because it helps validate their experiences, and it helps us see the impact of such attacks so we can stay focused on stopping them.
That said, the extended version of “Don't Close Your Eyes” does exactly what hip-hop should continue doing: publicly speaking up against child molestation, and refusing to give accused abusers a pass just because they’re hip-hop icons.
By William E. Ketchum III, on Twitter at @WEKetchum
Photo Credit: RonaldSavage