Universal Zulu Nation

House of Vans celebrates Afrika Bambaataa’s legendary hip-hop crew with a new exhibition
By Lewis Firth | Art | 6 November 2015

Courtesy of House of Vans

The House of Vans open a new exhibition this evening, celebrating the life and impact of legendary hip-hop awareness group The Universal Zulu Nation, who are marking their 42nd anniversary this year.

Founded by hip-hop artist Afrika Bambaataa in the 1970s, The Universal Zulu Nation’s members were ex-gang-members from the Black Spades, a gang from the South Bronx.

Other reformed gangs contributed their own members, too – some from the Savage Nomads, Seven Immortals and Savage Skulls – and began organising cultural events, combining various dance and music concepts, for the community’s youth. Subsequently it encouraged an organic, developmental process of said notions that were siphoned into the many components of hip-hop today.


Fresh Dressed: “The jean jacket was graffiti art’s first canvas. B-boys on the street”. Brooklyn, New York, circa 1983.
Photograph by Jamel Shabazz

The exhibition will focus on the core elements of UZN: deejaying, bboying, rapping, graffiti and knowledge.

Original artwork and artefacts from the movement will be exhibited – from Dan Lish, King Davis, Bunny Bread and more – as well as live-art demonstrations, beat-making workshops and a hip-hop, fashion documentary Fresh Dressed. A culturally rich event for any hip-hop addict.

6-15 November. House of Vans, Arches 22-232, Station Approach Road, London, SE1 8SW. 



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