New York City Club Scene 1984

In the video above you see the emerging dance scene in NYC. If you ever listen New Order’s Confusion and thought wow this is well produced and really works well in a nightclub now you can know the reason. Producer Arthur Baker tells how he tested the track in club specifically to sound good there. At that time most music heard even in clubs had melody and lyrics. At 13:58 in the reporter amazingly has an epic thought and asks Baker if he thinks if eventually dance music will just be rhythmic without vocals or melody. He knew the future!

“The other question is what would be the next? Because things are becoming more and more rhythmic. Do you think we will end up with just complete rhythm records with no melody whatsoever?”

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I was 14 when I saw the 1984 Grammy’s and Herbie Hancock perform Rockit. It’s as fresh today as is was then. When I say fresh I mean FRESH. It wasn’t long before every suburban kid had pin-striped Lee’s and Shell Toe Adidas with fat laces (including me). Thanks to Laughing Squid for posting this and reminding me how great it was/is!

“In 1983, Hancock had a mainstream hit with the Grammy-award winning instrumental single “Rockit” from the album Future Shock. It was perhaps the first mainstream single to feature scratching, and also featured an innovative animated music video which was directed by Godley and Creme and showed several robot-like artworks by Jim Whiting. The video was a hit on MTV. The video won 5 different categories at the inaugural MTV Video Music Awards. This single ushered in a collaboration with noted bassist and producer Bill Laswell. Hancock experimented with electronic music on a string of three LPs produced by Laswell: Future Shock (1983), Sound-System (1984) and Perfect Machine (1988). Despite the success of “Rockit”, Hancock’s trio of Laswell-produced albums (particularly the latter two) are among the most critically derided of his entire career, perhaps even more so than his erstwhile pop-jazz experiments. Hancock’s level of actual contribution to these albums was also questioned, with some critics contending that the Laswell albums should have been labelled “Bill Laswell featuring Herbie Hancock”.” –

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Before the darkness there was rap and breakdance.

If you listen to my music every now and then you come across a song that could almost be hip hop. Songs like It’s Goes Like This and of course One Night in NYC are good examples. The reason? Well before I became a New Wave, EBM freak was into classic Hip Hop.

I used to break at my local bowling alley. I had pinstriped Lees and Puma’s with fat laces. I even had a white cap that said “Fresh” (unfortunately thats not a lie!). I have a giant Conion boombox which is the size of a car door (thats a photo of it today in my father’s office). I bought it at the Spring Valley flea market. Every Friday and Saturday night I recorded DJ Red Alert on Kiss FM and Marley Marl’s Rap Attack on WBLS. I still have a huge box of those cassettes waiting to become digital! The video above shows how popular breaking became and its infiltration into every suburb in America.

Conion Boombox

Even though I moved on quickly past the genre I’m glad I cut some of my teeth there. Learning hip hop vocal styles and drum machine programming at such an early age has really helped throughout my music career. You would be surprised how much skill goes into simple worded verses. How you can really change the feeling of the message by swinging your voice around. And drum machine programming…

So what got you started in music?

Also read…
Cassette tape nostalgia. Rewind: click here
Beatsource for Hip Hop has launched: click here