Dreaming Of 808

8 min read Jul 01, 2024
Dreaming Of 808

Dreaming of 808: The Enduring Power of a Beat

The iconic 808 drum machine, with its booming bass and distinctive sound, has left an indelible mark on music history. From its humble beginnings in the late 70s, the 808 has become more than just a piece of equipment – it has evolved into a cultural phenomenon, influencing everything from hip-hop and electronic music to pop and even classical. Today, the 808 is a symbol of innovation, power, and raw creativity. But beyond its technical prowess, the 808 holds a special place in the hearts of many, as it evokes a sense of nostalgia, excitement, and a deep connection to the music we love.

From Industrial Tool to Musical Icon: The Rise of the 808

The Roland TR-808 Rhythm Composer, often simply referred to as the 808, was initially conceived as a tool for creating electronic music for commercial purposes. Its primary intention was to emulate the sound of acoustic drums, but the 808 lacked the realism of its predecessors. It was this very lack of realism that proved to be its greatest strength. The 808 offered a unique sonic landscape, with its distinctive, synthesized sounds that were both powerful and playful.

The 808's impact on music is undeniable. It provided a platform for experimentation and innovation, pushing the boundaries of traditional music production. Artists like Afrika Bambaataa and Kraftwerk embraced the 808's unique sounds, incorporating them into their groundbreaking works. This paved the way for a new wave of electronic music, characterized by its reliance on synthesized beats and a focus on rhythm and groove.

The 808's Reign in Hip-Hop: A Sound That Defines a Genre

The 808 found its true home in hip-hop. The genre's emphasis on rhythm and bass, combined with its DIY ethos, made the 808 the perfect instrument for creating the genre's signature sound.

Artists like Rick Rubin and the Beastie Boys revolutionized hip-hop production, using the 808's bass drum to create a new sonic language. The booming, deep bass lines of early hip-hop classics like "Planet Rock" and "License to Ill" cemented the 808 as an essential component of the genre.

The 808's influence on hip-hop continued to grow throughout the 90s and 2000s. Artists like Dr. Dre, Kanye West, and Timbaland incorporated the 808 into their productions, creating groundbreaking tracks that pushed the genre's sonic boundaries.

Beyond Hip-Hop: The 808's Impact on Global Music

The 808's influence stretches far beyond hip-hop. Its unique sound has resonated across musical genres and continents.

In electronic music, the 808 has become a staple, used in everything from techno and house to dubstep and trap. Its iconic bass drum has become synonymous with these genres, creating a feeling of intensity and euphoria.

The 808 has also made its way into pop music, with artists like Lady Gaga, Justin Bieber, and Rihanna incorporating its distinctive sound into their productions. The 808 provides a rhythmic backbone for these artists, adding a layer of power and intensity to their tracks.

Even classical music has felt the influence of the 808. Composers like Philip Glass and Steve Reich have experimented with incorporating electronic instruments, including the 808, into their work. This fusion of traditional and electronic music has created a new sonic landscape, pushing the boundaries of what classical music can be.

The 808: A Sound That Transcends Time and Genre

The 808's enduring appeal lies in its ability to transcend time and genre. It's a sound that evokes strong emotional responses, triggering feelings of nostalgia, excitement, and even euphoria.

The 808 is more than just a piece of equipment. It's a symbol of a musical revolution, a testament to the power of innovation, and a reminder of the enduring legacy of electronic music. It's a sound that will continue to inspire and influence artists for generations to come.

Dreaming of 808 is not just about the music. It's about a feeling, a vibe, and a connection to a cultural moment. It's a reminder that music has the power to transcend time, connect people, and create lasting memories.


The 808's journey, from industrial tool to musical icon, is a testament to its enduring power. It is a sound that has shaped musical genres, influenced generations of artists, and captured the hearts of millions around the world. Dreaming of 808 is not just about the past, but about the future of music, and the boundless possibilities that lie ahead.