With a fan base as large as his, you’d think there would be a whole month of the year dedicated to celebrating Bassnectar. We haven’t reached that point yet, but today is the closest thing to it. Today’s date is 8/08, and I am hereby declaring it Bassnectar Appreciation Day (if it hasn’t been already). Bassnectar fans have already self-proclaimed this holiday in the name of that tippy tappy kick drum known as the 808 that makes its way into so much of the music that we love. While Bassnectar wasn’t the first to use this drum tool, he certainly has mastered it’s inclusion in the modern landscape of music. And for this, Lorin, we salute you and take today to celebrate your journey. If it wasn’t for the 808 and it’s role in music history, your sounds may have never reached our ears.
DON'T HATE THE 808
The Roland TR-808 Rhythm Composer was born in 1980. At the time, it was the first commercial analogue rhythm machine that was meant to recreate actual drum sounds. It offered a solution to rock musicians who wanted to record inexpensive demos without a live drummer. The problem was that the TR-808 sounded almost nothing like the real thing, causing it to be disregarded as a useful invention. In actuality, the TR-808 was marketed towards the wrong genre. Nothing can replace the raw live raps and bangs of a rock and roll drum set, in my opinion. The TR-808 machine didn't replace the sound of a real drumset, but instead it became its own distinct sounding drums. The technology opened up the creative possibilities of specific sound and rhythm manipulation that genres like house and hip-hop sorely needed at the time. Economics also played a role in the 808’s story. When it first hit the market it was priced at $1,000, which made it relatively cheap. Near the same time, the first digital drum machine called the Linn LM-1 joined the scene offering a cleaner and crisper sound that was favored by 80’s pop musicians such as Prince. The LM-1 was priced at $5,000, making it almost impossible for young underground artists to get their hands on. The TR-808 found its way into Afrika Bambaataa’s music and his 1982 single “Planet Rock” became the first hip-hop single to utilize the 808 (slate.com). Soon artists like the Beastie Boys, N.W.A, and the Talking Heads began looking at the 808 in a completely different way. For some songs that feature the 808 in spectacular fashion, check out my mixtape post - 808 This, 808 That.
BOOM CLAP, THAT'S A CLASSIC
So, how has the 808 evolved since it was adopted as a useful drum element? On the mainstream side, OutKast is credited with bringing the 808 into 20th century hip-hop with their 2003 hit “The Way You Move.” Kanye West has also endorsed the sound, even naming his 2008 album 808s & Heartbreak. Even rock bands like Green Day work the 808 style into their song “Nightlife.”
However, the reason today is a big deal for Bassnectar fans is perhaps because he has been so vocal about his admiration for the 808. In his liner notes from his Noise vs. Beauty album, he called it a “special weapon,” and I think that’s a clever way to put it. Maybe this unspoken love for the way the 808 makes our minds race is another way Bass Heads are connected. One of the best musical experiences is hearing how loud and tight the 808 can sound live. It’s an element that makes the live shows that much more explosive. When songs like Teleport Massive with it’s maniac kick line are dropped you feel the whole crowd united by its sound. We love the 808. We love its snapping, cracking, whiplashy sound. And we love Bassnectar a little more each time he dances that 808 hat on our brains. I’m sure he’ll be throwing a little extra 808 love into his set at Moonrise tonight! To all the lucky bassheads who are going, rage a little harder for the rest of us!
If you’re anything like me, you absolutely love holidays. I’m always down for another reason to celebrate, so I thought 808 Day was the best thing to come around since May the Fourth. Wherever it came from, 808 Day is becoming engrained in the Bassnectar culture, and it’s exciting to watch the community connect together in yet another positive way. Bassheads everywhere, let’s take today to appreciate the 808, and our favorite mastermind Lorin Ashton for pushing limits and bridging genres. I keep finding new ways to appreciate his music from a different angle, and because of this I’m constantly curious to learn more and share it. Today is a day to be united through music, a connection that brought us all together in the first place. Already over 800 people today have been celebrating 808 Day on Twitter. I’m going to celebrate in my own way tonight by listening to my 808 This, 808 That playlist with a group of fellow bassheads (we’ll start it at 8:08 p.m EST if anyone wants to join our mini listening party! #808Party). Until then, keep the good vibes coming! I can feel your love through the nectarsphere.
HAPPY NECTAR DAY!