The early 1980s witnessed the rise of electro bass music, a genre that left a lasting mark on the musical landscape. From New York City to California, Detroit and Miami, various groups and artists contributed to its development and evolution.
In this blog post, we explore the origins of electro bass music and highlight the contributions of Soulsonic Force, Furious Five, Orbit, Cybotron, The World Class Wreckin Crew, Egyptian Lover, South Florida’s Amos Larkins II and The 2 Live Crew.
New York City: The Birthplace of Electro Bass Music:
During the early 80s, New York City served as the epicenter for electro bass music, nurturing the pioneers who propelled the genre forward. Soulsonic Force, led by the legendary Afrika Bambaataa, emerged with their seminal track “Planet Rock” (1982), inspired by pioneer German group Kraftwerk’s Trans-Europe Express'(1977).
Also elements of another Kraftwerk song “Numbers” was sampled and used for the track. Fusing elements of funk, disco, and electronic music, this influential song, driven by the Roland TR-808 drum machine and synthesizers, solidified Bambaataa’s status as the “Godfather of Electro” and became a defining anthem for the genre.
That same year Grandmaster Flash & The Furious Five released the iconic masterpiece ‘Scorpio'(1981) as a single from their album ‘The Message’ (1982).
Afrika Bambaataa & The Soul Sonic Force – Planet Rock (Instrumental) (1982)
Kraftwerk – Trans-Europe Express
Kraftwerk – Numbers
Grandmaster Flash & The Furious Five- Scorpio (Remastered)
California: West Coast Innovators:
While New York City played a significant role, California also contributed to the development of electro bass music, infusing it with its distinct flavor. Orbit, a Los Angeles-based group, made their mark with “The Beat Goes On” in 1982, showcasing California’s unique fusion of hip-hop, funk, and electronic music.
The World Class Wreckin Crew ‘Surgery'[Dr. Dre](1984) and the Eygptian Lover ‘Egypt Egypt'(1984) both Los Angeles-based groups, Dj/producers, made their mark with their energetic performances and innovative electro-infused tracks in the early 80s.
Orbit -The Beat Goes On
World Class Wreckin’ Cru – Surgery
The Egyptian Lover – Egypt, Egypt
Detroit: Cybotron’s “Clear” and the Birth of Techno Bass:
Hailing from Detroit, Cybotron, comprised of Juan Atkins and Richard Davis, shaped the electro bass landscape with their 1983 release, “Clear.” This groundbreaking track merged futuristic soundscapes with heavy basslines, laying the foundation for the emerging techno bass sound that influenced the genre today.
Germany’s Kraftwerk’s pioneering approach, using synthesisers and sequenced drum arrangements to produce robotic or industrial rhythms, became the blueprint for Detroit musicians such as Juan Atkins, who also coined the term “techno”. Kraftwerk was inspired by Detroit artists of the late ’60s MC5 and the Stooges.
Cybotron – Clear – 1983
Miami: Obscene Lyrics and the Miami Sound:
Miami’s vibrant nightlife and rich musical heritage also played a crucial role in shaping electro bass music. Amos Larkins II, with his track featuring MC AD, added a unique dimension to the Miami sound in 1985.
Later, Luke Skywalker (later known as Luther Campbell) joined the scene, infusing it with explicit and provocative lyrics, including explicit references to twerking and a distinct dirty south flavor.
The 2 Live Crew, although seen as a main fixture in the Miami hip-hop scene, actually got their start in Riverside, California and was created by DJ Mr. Mixx (David Hobbs) with fellow rappers Fresh Kid Ice (Chris Wong Won), and Amazing Vee (Yuri Vielot).
The group released its first single, “Revelation”, on its own label “Fresh Beat Records” in 1984. The A-side of “Revelation” contained a song where the only rapper featured was Amazing Vee. The B-side contained a song named “2 Live” where Fresh Kid Ice was the only rapper featured.
“Revelation” was popular in Florida. Luke Skyywalker (Luther Campbell), who at the time was a local DJ and promoter, invited The 2 Live Crew to relocate to Miami.
MC A.D.E – Bass Rock Express
2 Live Crew – The Revelation (1984)
The origins of electro bass music can be attributed to a diverse range of groups and artists from different regions. New York City’s Soulsonic Force, California’s The World Class Wreckin Crew, Detroit’s Cybotron, Miami’s Amos Larkins II and Luke Skywalker’s 2 Live Crew all contributed to the development and evolution of electro bass music during the early and mid 80s.
Each group brought their own distinctive sound and influences, adding depth and diversity to the genre. The collaborative efforts of these artists across various cities laid the foundation for electro bass music as we know it today.
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