Tuesday, September 16, 2008

The Return of Electro

written by Errol Veloso and Kevin Walker

Photo by: Maschinenraum

Brush up those robot skills, electro is making a comeback! A renewed interest in this genre among underground and mainstream artists has fueled the revival of the electro music style. Characterized by use of mainly electronic devices, such as drum machines and synthesizers, this genre has no set template allowing artists to freely explore and experiment whatever their imagination comes up with.

The electro genre hit full swing back in May 1982 when Afrika Bambaataa and Soulsonic Force debuted "Planet Rock." The song essentially paved the way for other genres including house, techno, and hip-hop. Today, electro comes full circle, utilized by many up-and-coming and established artists as the main direction or as an element to integrate with another genre (electro/hip-hop). Although mixing electro with hip-hop has been around for a while, there has been a recent influx of songs with an electro influence.

Photo by: jurvetson

One notable case involves the Louis Vuitton don, Kanye West. His 2007 hit single, "Stronger," is a perfect example of the use and integration of electro. The song features a vocal sample from Daft Punk’s "Harder, Better, Faster, Stronger," and retains the electro/house direction they intended. Kanye’s version combines electro with hip-hop creating a fresh take on the genre.

The move to utilize the original electro/house song is credited to A-Trak (Kanye West’s DJ) after introducing Kanye to the original track. A-Trak, who is known to "ride the line between hip hop and electronic beats," [1] played a key role in Graduation influencing the music direction of the album. On A-Trak’s blog, he makes a bold statement about the current state of music today, saying, "no longer is it a crime to mash a hip-hop acapella into a techno track."[1]

In the video interview below, A-Trak briefly explains his transition to electro (3:50)

Another more current example is up-and-coming music group Chromeo. The duo, consisting of Dave 1 (A-Trak’s brother) and P-Thugg, first formed in order to explore the sub-genre of electro-funk. The two have solid backgrounds in hip-hop, but made the transition to electro-funk. Their latest release "Momma’s Boy" has been featured on FNMTV, and continues to gain popularity.

For a closer look at Chromeo please visit www.killahbeez.com

Next generation of Electro Boogie masters:

  • Sa-Ra Creative Partners – LA Based production trio that specializes in the retro futuristic sounds of early 80’s funk.

Taz Arnold of Sa-Ra, Kevin Walker of CultureLab, and Shaafyq of Sa-Ra

  • Dam Funk- LA based producer/DJ, single handedly has been the chief promoter of retro electro-boogie.

Other examples of electro in 2008:

  • John Legend ft. Andre 3000- Greenlight

  • Common ft. Pharrell- Universal Mind Control
Universal Mind Control - Common

  • Kid Sister ft. Kanye West- Pro Nails

[1] www.djatrak.com

1 comment:

MHB said...

Keep your ears peeled for Janelle Monae. Methinks she will soon blow up within this Science Sexy Genre.