By Stephen Pate – Apple exclusively released 808 – The Movie today on iTunes. 808 The Movie was previewed already as a streamed on Apple Music.

During the late 70’s Roland created the one machine that would re-define music for the next 35 years – the Roland TR 808.

Electronica, hip-hop, rap, dance it all came from the TR 808, a machine that was only made for 4 years before Roland discontinued it for a newer model. Hip-hop artists picked them up in used shops and incorporated them into their sound.

 

Even Bob Dylan has used a Roland 808 – yup.  When recording the 1989 release Oh Mercy, Dylan’s producer producer Daniel Lanois used one. Dylan originally showed Lanois the song but the Canadian producer was puzzled. He took the song home and worked that evening on his 808 to see if there was a viable rhythm.

“I first heard Most of the Time at Bob’s house,” Lanois told Brad Wheeler of the Globe and Mail where he played it for me on the piano and sang it. … The core of the song was Bob and me, sitting close to each other in two chairs. It was essentially recorded in my kitchen in New Orleans. I used a Roland TR-808 beat box piped through a stage monitor, so I knew the song could be rhythmically viable because it had metronomic time; I could add instruments to it.”

That’s just one of the many ways major artists have used the 808 in their music productions both mainstream rock, hip-hop, rap, dance and pop.

808 The Movie is fun to watch. It demonstrates how important the TR 808 is to our music and how great artists use it.

Even more fun is to own one and create the music yourself. The original 808 sold for $1,195 but used ones now go for $3,500 to $10,000. Those used expensive 808’s are old and usually in bad repair.

Luckily, Roland has released a cool new digital version the Aira TR 8 which sells for a modest $500. Not only is the Roland TR 8 easy to get, it also has the drum sounds of Roland’s TR 909 drum machine. If you run out of ideas, you can be upgrade the TR-8 to include the TR-707 and TR-727 drum machines.

Purists will argue you need to get one of those old 808’s to get the sound. The new TR-8 is easier to use, has more sounds and more flexibility.

The Roland TR-8 Rhythm Performer with Roland 7X7-TR8 Drum Machine Expansion Bundle is available from Amazon and other resellers.

I have a TR-8 and love it.