808 Drum Machines
An 808 is a drum machine that is divided into hits and loops folder machine. The 808 usually refers to a special kind of drum machine called the Roland TR-808. The first one was created in the 1980’s in order to help other instruments stay in their harmonious pitches. Once the samples are mixed, they are stored into WAV files, which can then be stored in a DAW or app of your choice. Once you’re have them, you can use them to suite all of your personal needs as they are royalty-free. The only drawback is that it’s illegal to re-distribute them.
Not everyone who needs it can afford an actual Roland TR. However, their library of analogues and digital effects of 808 samples are available almost anywhere. Some YouTube videos are also available to show what they can do. They typically go very fast but in various rhythms and tempos. Some have added bass sounds to them as well. In fact, that’s why “808” in urban slang sometimes means a charge for disturbing the peace. It literally refers to the bass sound associated with old-time boom boxes.
The Evolution of the 808 Drum Machine
The Roland TR-808 has wormed its way into just about every aspect of hip-hop. This includes electro, regional, and techno hip-hop. It has even made its way into some stop lights with its kick rhythm blaring out of the loudspeakers. Same case with numerous clubs. It is also what makes for the “bump! bump! bump!” sound in vehicles when the music is on too loud.
The fact that the 808 made it into the spotlight as well as it did actually come as a surprise. It was designed as background beats. They were originally programmed to substitute for live drummers whenever one couldn’t be present. Users very shortly discovered that all they had to do was simply design and bring forth their own beats by tapping in a three-beat-rhythm on the machine’s trigger pads or simply mix their own sequence drum patterns.
However, the 808 was initially a total flop. In the 1980’s mixers felt that most of the beats were too otherworldly for the hip hop and pop world. For example, a lot of the sounds were very spurt-like and snare drums often sounded like harsh slams. It also wasn’t considered to measure up to those, like the Linn LM-1, which used more digital beats. It was the Linn LM-1 that was the first to succeed in the pop world. The only drawback with the LM-1 is that it was pricey and typically cost about $5,000. The 808, however, usually cost only $1,000.
It was a South Bronx DJ named Afrika Bambaataa who brought the 808 back into popularity almost singlehandedly. He was planning a trip to deep space with his master stroke “Planet Rock” in 1982 on a limited budget. The hip-hop song, Magna Carta is believed to have been the hit with the 808. Soon after, it was heard again with many rap sensations, including the Beastie Boys and a couple of mainstream pop hits, including Phil Collins’ “One More Night”.