Hip-hop pioneer Afrika Bambaataa — who recently completed a three-year term as the Cornell Hip Hop Collection’s first visiting scholar — was accused of child molestation at the end of March by New York State Democratic Committee member Ronald Savage, according to XXL Magazine.
Bambaataa has denied the accusations, saying they are “baseless and are a cowardly attempt to tarnish my reputation and legacy in hip-hop at this time,” according to his statement to Rolling Stone.
“I, Afrika Bambaataa, want to take this opportunity at the advice of my legal counsel to personally deny any and all allegations of any type of sexual molestation of anyone,” Bambaataa said in the statement.
Savage first met the DJ and producer in 1980 when Savage was a “crate boy,” carrying around crates or records for DJs in Bambaataa’s Zulu Nation hip-hop collective, Savage told the New York Daily News.
Savage claimed the Bambaataa sexually abused him in 1980 when Savage was 15 years old, “inflicting deep emotional wounds that continue to torture him to this day,” according to the Daily News.
“I was just a child,” Savage told the Daily News. “Why did he take my innocence away?”
Savage recently released a self-published memoir titled “Impulse Urges and Fantasies,” which discusses the Bambaataa allegations, the Daily News reported.
Savage has said is speaking out to change New York’s statute of limitations, which prohibits child sexual abuse victims from pursuing criminal charges after their 23rd birthday, according to the Daily News.
Commonly known as the “the godfather of hip-hop,” Bambaataa gave the genre its name and was the first to bring together DJing, rapping, breakdancing and graffiti art, according to the University. He was nominated for induction into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 2007.
Bambaataa’s record collection of over 20,000 vinyl records will be catalogued in the Cornell University Library Hip Hop Collection thanks to a $260,000 grant from the National Endowment for the Humanities, according to a University press release in March.