The Drum Machine That Shaped Modern Music: The Roland 808

Celebrate 808 Day With A Quick History Lesson!

In the history of hip-hop, the drum machine serves as an important building block. When rap was still underground, fighting to find its voice, producers were scouring for the perfect gear to realize their vision. Early hip-hop musicians found the perfect drum sound in the Roland 808. Today, 8/08, join us as we take a look back at one of the most important drum machines in history.

Originally produced from 1980 to 1983, the Roland 808 brought electronic drums to the masses, generating the crisp “boom bap” that would define hip hop through analog synthesis. While hip-hop heads might pray to the 808 altar now, the drum machine was viewed unfavorably upon release, with reviews calling the drum sounds “unrealistic.”

With poor initial sales and harsh reviews, Roland would discontinue the 808 in 1983. This ensured the 808 would quickly be discounted, allowing cash strapped underground musicians to get their hands on the drum machine, cementing the 808 as a crucial element of early hip-hop.

These days, the Roland 808 retains a cult following, being viewed as one of the most influential inventions in modern music.

Celebrate 808 Day by snagging a Roland TR-08 from UniqueSquared, allowing you to recreate the sound and feel of the drum machine that shaped music as we know it.

August 08, 2018 by Evan Hopkins

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