Roland TR-808
The Roland TR-808 Rhythm Composer (Roland)

A jungle / dnb tribute to the TR-808

While I understand that it’d be geeky AF to say some clunky nerd shit like “hey, what’s your favorite tune with the Roland TR-808 Rhythm Composer?,” as a journalist documentarian writer guy who is obsessed with drum & bass, these are the kinds of questions that you ask your dnb-loving squad.

Most of the time, they don’t hit back. You wonder why—they are whole producers. Why wouldn’t they spout off some of the best uses of the TR-808 for a Spotlight Saturdays feature on August 8th, aka the day officially recognized as 808 Day?

The Roland TR-808 revolutionalized music. No, seriously.

Their reluctance could be that they are busy. Or it could just be that it’s hard to narrow down one grouping of tunes as their “favorites” for use of the 808-specifically. The drum machine, which debuted in the early ’80s and was knowing for its “booming” bass drum, was extremely influential in the world of hip-hop. It was also the backbone of Marvin Gaye’s “Sexual Healing” and the entire Latin freestyle scene. It was wildly used across the entire musical landscape, and when it came to drum & bass, especially the earlier jungle scene, the 808 was used as much as the Amen break.

It was dope to specifically hear the mention of the 808 in drum & bass in the trailer for the 808 documentary. The drum machine has been used for so long that it’s always interesting to throw a bunch of 808-rockin’ tunes together and marvel at the differences. How LSB’s “Potshot” puts such a funky distortion on it, especially when you remember how Splash let the 808 provide a warm bed for those thunderous amens to rain down on. Drumfunkster Paradox is represented, as is Optical, who’s anthem is the name of this very playlist.

For our second Spotlight Saturdays Spotify playlist, we’ve put together a slick selection of eight tunes featuring the 808. Turn this up, share it with like-minded folks, maybe learn some history, and keep it locked!