It’s 8/08, let’s celebrate.

Not only is today #InternationalCatDay, but it’s also 8/08, so what better way to celebrate than by listening to a suite of songs featuring Roland’s trusty TR-808 drum machine.

Released back in 1980, the Transistor Rhythm 808 was initially unpopular as its synthesized analogue sounds simply didn’t emulate drums well enough. At this time, sampling drum machines were beginning to grow in popularity, so the need for bleeps, whooshes and cracks was fading fast – or that’s what people thought.

When the Roland ceased production of the TR-808 in 1983, the unthinkable happened. Thanks to its knock-down price and availability, it was snapped up by budding hip-hop, electro and techno producers and instantly found a niche. Now, the futuristic booms, ticks and claps had found a home so perfect that they’ve been used pretty much ever since. Flick the radio on and chances are there’s an 808 kick ready and waiting to greet you.

We’ve put together an Apple Music playlist of tracks that use the humble TR-808’s sounds most prominently, and while Yellow Magic Orchestra’s ‘1000 Knives’ (the first recorded song ever to use the sounds) isn’t on Apple Music yet, there’s plenty more to sink your teeth into, from T La Rock’s pioneering Rick Rubin-produced breakout ‘It’s Yours’ and Cybotron’s Detroit document ‘Clear’ to Waka Flocka Flame’s 808 Mafia-produced ‘Bustin’ At ‘Em’ and DJ Rashad’s ‘Only One’.

Take a listen here, and watch Daedelus compare the original TR-808 to Roland’s digital update, the TR-8.



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