NEW YORK — Hip-hop legend Afrika Bambaataa, Japanese pop icon Ryuichi Sakamoto and former REM singer Michael Stipe were among the stars spotted in the audience at Thursday’s Kraftwerk concert at the Museum of Modern Art. They came to see the band perform Trans-Europe Express, the 1977 release that is, in many ways, the most legendary of all the Kraftwerk records.
The album’s DNA is hard-coded into the history of hip-hop and electro. The groundbreaking 1982 track “Planet Rock” by Afrika Bambaataa & the Soulsonic Force, a Rosetta Stone for early hip-hop, incorporates elements of Trans-Europe Express‘ title theme. (It also folds in elements of “Numbers,” a 1981 Kraftwerk song from Computer World.) So it was special to see Bambaataa in the MoMA audience Thursday, bobbing his head to Kraftwerk’s beats.