Monday, October 15, 2007
Zapp and Roger
Well, for everything I thought I knew, I couldn't have been more in the dark about this one. Yes, that's right. Those hilariously dressed fellows shown above actually amde a hugely signifigant contribution to music. Especially to west coast hip hop, and R & B.
For you hip hop fanatics out there, you know these guys inside and out. Taking strides further than Peter Frampton ever did, Zapp and Roger took the vocoder to a new level, incorporating it as the center of their sound.
Those of you not familiar with a vocoder, or what it does, you may remember the 90s rap anthem California Love, in which what sounds like a digitized voice says, "California...knows how to party." That's a vocoder. Not a hip hop fan? Well you've still heard that song before, so quit being a dick. Or go get Frampton Comes Alive and listen to Do You Feel Like We Feel. He employs the same instrument, but in a much more limited fashion than Frank and Zapp.
I have to give a shout out to Grady as well. Without the trip we took (to what he called 'the hood') this weekend to meet his family, I'd never have heard their works. Sure, like many passive listeners out there, I had heard 'I Wanna Be Your Man' before. Who hasn't? But the rest of their greatest hits record, which really were hits (whether we whiteys knew it or not), are fantastic.
I encourage everyone who has ever liked hip hop to check out their greatest hits records. It's kind of like listening to what the Beatles did for a generation of hip hop artists to follow. Their sound was so unique and ahead of their time, most of mainstream society wasn't sure what to think.
Well, let's flash forward to today where mainstream society does know what to think: and if record sales over the past 20 years are any indicator, Frank and Zapp's sound completely molded a vast portion of what west coast hip hop was, is, and forever will be.
And please, trust me when I say that while you may not recognize (word for word) every song on their album, you've certainly heard thenm all before, and will find yourself saying, "what is this from...I know I've heard this before." And then you'll sit there and realize, well now that I know what it is, it will be gracing your mp3 players, cd music makers, and record harmoniuses for parsecs to come.