YellowMagic Orchestra, an electronic group from Japan, was one of the first pioneersof the 808. They took advantage of the instrument, playing live with it in concerts and on their album BGM.The bright era of TR-808 hasbegun. Artist started to implement the drum machine into their works, spreadingthe sound of 808 throughout a world, by the way it also brought a ton ofproducers from different genres to admire and use this piece of art andtechnology in their very own and unique way. When Marvin Gaye and Rick Jamesreleased their R&B hits, audience started to show interest in that soundand iconic 808’s drums and percussion begun to appear in the top charts and wentonto the radio shows all over the world.
Gaye’s song ‘Sexual Healing’ had an entiregroove that was built entirely from Roland’s drum machine sounds. That song,along with other 808 hit- Whitney Houston’s ‘I Wanna Dance With Somebody’brought the TR-808 to the mainstream. One of the godfathers of hip hopand electro-funk, Afrika Bambaataa used an 808 to create a beaton the famous track ‘Planet Rock.’ Also he used a sample from Kraftwerk’s ‘Trans-EuropeExpress’ to create super funky leads in his masterpiece. This was the song thatclearly demonstrated producers around the world what the 808 could do for hiphop.
“”Planet Rock” didn’t so much put the 808 on the map so much as itreoriented an entire world of post-disco dance music around it” (Hamilton, 2016).After “Planet Rock” became a massive hit across the United States, hip hop andelectronic producers started to emulate futuristic sounds shaping them into newgenres and movements. In the world of hip hop, the use of the 808 blastedthroughout the rest of the 1980s and beyond.
As for modern days, 808 is stillalive and can be heard in a vast variety of genres, from a classic techno andhip-hop to a future bass and trap music.”Trap producers Metro Boomin and Sonny Digital also rely heavily on the 808sound, and they’re responsible for 90 percent of today’s most popular Migos andFuture records — “Mask Off” being themost recent. Most, if not all, chart-topping hip-hop records today and inthe past 30 years have probably used some element of an 808.” (Hasnain, 2017) Neverthelessmore and more, notably young producers by virtue of lack of money or personaltaste tend to use sampled versions of Roland’s iconic drum machine. It is still808, not that unique sounding transistor equipped machine, but it is still cultureand legacy that TR-808 left behind. The blend of electronic dance music andretro-hip-hop that the Roland TR-808 has helped to establish determines fromdigital sound and social media rather than any geographic areas orartistic movement.
Since the construction in 1980, this machine had an influencealmost on every aspect of popular music. From the electro-funk grooves to the 808bass lines of current Top charts, it is safe to assume that this instrumentwill continue to shape the sound of popular music in America and throughout theglobe for years to come.