CLASSIC SONGS CREATED WITH THE ICONIC ROLAND TR-808
And videos of them being re-created on the Roland Tr-8
What’s going on fellow Music Producers and Sound Designers! In honor of the late Ikutaro Kakehashi, the founder of Roland and the creative mind behind the TR-808 who recently passed away April 1st of this year, I wanted to shed some light on some songs you may or may not have known were created using the classic and iconic 808. The TR- 808 was first released in 1980 by Roland but was initially ill received. At the time the LM-1 drum machine, created by Roger Linn, another grandfather of MIDI, ruled in the arena. With artist like Prince, The Time, and Michael Jackson using the LM-1 drum machine on hits around that time. It wasn’t until a couple years later with the help of hits like Marvin Gaye’s “Sexual Healing”, Whitney Houston’s “I Wanna Dance With Somebody”, and Afrika Bambaataa’s, “Planet Rock”, that it began to be incorporated into the mainstream music of that time. Soon after it exploded into Pop Culture and took the world of music by storm. One of the biggest aspects of the machine to be incorporated into Popular Culture was the iconic kick drum. The decay of the kick could be manipulated in such a way to create a solid heavy boom bass kick that would eventually revolutionize popular music forever. This kick style has since become synonymous with any type of deep bass with a heavy decay, as we know it today. The term however comes from the specific abilities of the classic 808 kick. Roland stopped producing the drum machine in 1984 but it is still as relevant today as it was over 30 years ago. Below I have a list a few classic songs you may know that included the classic drum machine in its production. To dig into some of the features of the creative processes of these songs, I have also recreated the grooves of these classic songs with the newer updated TR-8 drum machine, a recent recreation of the Classic TR-808 by Roland. Enjoy!!
CYBOTRON - CLEAR
Released in 1983, this song is one of the earliest to make use of the 808. With a style that is definitely reminiscent of the breaking style of the early 80’s hip hop culture; it is clear (no pun intended lol) why this song was a hit. Everyone from T.I to the great Super Producer Timbaland has also sampled the 808 driven hit.
AFRIKA BAMBAATAA AND THE SOUL SONIC FORCE - PLANET ROCK
Released in 1982 this record had earth-shattering ripples across hip hop culture. With its pounding 808s and use of the infamous 808 cowbell, this record single handedly steered a whole generation of kids into the culture of Hip Hop.
NEW KIDS ON THE BLOCK - PLEASE DON’T GO GIRL
Released in 1988 the Boston based boy band used the TR-808 for this classic ballad. It features the use of almost every aspect of the drum machine with just a touch of reverb for some ambiance.
MARVIN GAYE - SEXUAL HEALING
Released in 1982, Sexual Healing is credited as being the first major hit to include the TR-808 in its production. An American classic, this song is embedded into Pop Culture and is known by just about everyone young and old. Towards the tail end of the iconic singers career, this single topped the Billboard Hot 100 charts for over 20 Weeks. Marvin also received the 1982 Grammy for Best R&B Male Vocal Performance for this record.
LOOSE ENDS - HANGIN’ ON A STRING
Released in 1984, the soul based British band topped the Billboard Hot 100 Charts peaking at number 43. Released in the US in 1985 Loose Ends also topped the Billboard R&B charts with this single reaching number one and earning them the status of the first British band to accomplish this feat. The song uses many features of the TR-808 along with the iconic tom roll made popular around this era in music.
Written for SoundOracle.net by Mitchell "The Innovator" Tillotson, Producer
Mitchell “The Innovator” Tillotson is a Music Producer, Musician, Songwriter, and Sound Designer hailing from the greater Baltimore area. Growing up as a Military Brat in the early 90’s and 2000’s and listening to producers like Teddy Riley, Rodney Jerkins, The Neptunes, and Timbaland, he fell in love with music at an early age. The recent Fullsail Music Production Grad and Navy Veteran grew up deejaying the local scenes in the Baltimore/DC areas and is now starting to take the music world by storm. Follow @iamtheinnovator on Twitter.