How the Roland TR-808 revolutionized music

How the Roland TR-808 revolutionized music

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“I’m back with the 808 ‘cause I’m bossy.” —Kelis feat. Too Short, “Bossy”

“Fresh like, uh, Impala, uh, chrome hydraulics, 808 drums” —The Game, “How We Do”

“Got some pretty good beats on this 808 CD” —Frank Ocean, “Swim Good”

“My heart’s beating like an 808” —Britney Spears, “Break The Ice”

“808, 8-0-fucking-8” —Future, “Mask Off”

If you’re into hip-hop and pop, you’ve probably heard “808” at some point. That’s a reference to the iconic Roland TR-808, a drum machine created by Ikutaro Kakehashi in 1972. Its unique dribbling bass drum sound is what artists mean when they say “turn up the 808.” The pursuit of the perfect low-frequency 808 sound is a real struggle for producers. Make a powerful enough 808, and it can blow your speakers —…

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