Skee-skirt…fast forward to the 80’s Funk Era. The seminal group Zapp featuring Roger Troutman (former Parliment Funkadelic member) created a new sound using the talkbox and the Moog Synthesizer. Five hit albums (including the Mega-Hit “More Bounce to the Ounce”) later, the Zapp/Roger Troutman style talkbox sound remains the standard by which all talkbox artists are judged! Countless Hip-Hop Records sampled Roger and “More Bounce” in particular. The song “California Love” featuring Tupac and Roger on talkbox stands as one of the biggest rap records of all time by perhaps the biggest rap artist of all time. So throw up ya W’s on that one. West siyeeeeeed!
There’s a short list of notable “talkbox artists” who picked up the torch in the nineties including Teddy Riley (Guy 1990), Devante Swing (Jodeci 1993), Dj Quik (“Safe & Sound” 1995), Battle Cat 1995, and yours truly Bosko (E40’s “Sprinkle Me Remix” 1995).
DJ Fingazz “Cali in the Summertime”2004. T-Pain and the Auto-Tune effect dominated 2006 to 2009, but has become over saturated , creating movement back to the talkbox sound. The most notable release in 2010 utilizing the talkbox is Big Boi (OutKast) feat. Bosko “Shutterbugg”.
Big Boi (OutKast) feat. Bosko “Shutterbugg”
I’m putting together the best of my talk box hits for your inspiration and listening pleasure Bosko Talkbox King album coming soon….
Naturally when the red hot Production team Tha Bizness needed talkbox for a new Drake record at Hot Beats Studio Atlanta, GA they contacted the “Talkbox King.” In the lab Drake bobbed his head to my single “Just Do You.” Then, he played me a bunch of bangin’ unreleased cuts and I played him some new Bosko songs/tracks. With both of us being singers and rappers, we were on the same page and the musical vibe was redonculous! So I did what I do, put it down ElectroSpit style (my brand of signature Talkbox sound), Drizzy did what he does, and voilà… magic! Be on the lookout for future collabs! Listen/Download here:! Talkbox King Mixtape coming soon!
Lately the first thing people say when they hear one of my records is “Damn…you freak the auto-tune different than anybody!” My reply is, “I play the talkbox…not Auto-tune!” Then they say,”Ain’t it the same?” then I tell ’em, “Hell naw! Not even close!”
As a producer who’s been able to work with some of the biggest names in Hip-Hop from Drake to Kanye West, Big Boi, and T.I. by playing the Talkbox, it’s my duty to clear up the “urban myths” about the difference between the Talkbox and Auto-Tune, as well as to breakdown the best talkbox products on the market for all the aspiring talkbox artists and talkbox weekend warriors alike. I will write a series of posts to help you become more familiar with both Auto-tune and mostly Talkbox products. The posts will include free downloads, video and links to learn more or purchase the reviewed products.
Let me start by breakin it down like this: Auto-Tune is a computer program created for people who can’t sing (no disrespect to T-pain whom I’ve worked with….an amazing producer/writer and a better singer than he gets credit for). Auto-Tune does just what it’s name suggests: it automatically tunes a singers’s voice (or a rapper’s) once it’s been recorded into the computer. A “slow” Auto-Tune setting is barely noticeable, while a “fast’ setting creates the “computerized” perfectly-tuned “T-Pain” effect that is so popular. Although T-Pain is noted as the “Auto-Tune King”, my friend Sam Ward was the first to use Auto-Tune as an effect instead of just a fix for not so great singing. The song was 1998 Cher “Believe” an instant hit. The Auto-Tune effect had all but died out until T-Pain got “Sprung” in 2005 and took auto-tune and ran with it (marathon style!) making a career out of that one effect even…and I’m not mad!
Here is a link to buy Auto-Tune
Logic Audio’s built in tuning plug in produces a similar effect.
Waves also makes a great auto-tune like program called “Tune”
The MPC is back! ….kind of. One of the most striking things about all the new gear announced at NAMM this year is the focus on virtual drum machines both with and without real hardware control. Native Instruments the Maschine, MOTU’s BPM, and OpenLabs Bump MP update, all have jumped (back) on the mpc-style pad bandwagon. With old-school hardware drum machines like the MPC, sampling time and more features were the dream. Software Sequencers like Logic & Cubase with millions of plug ins took us into outer space with limitless sounds and sequencing possibilities. Geeks (like me) rejoiced, but it took 10x longer to make beats since you had to audition at least 20 different snares and click through 5 different sub-windows just to truncate a loop (ahem… EXS24).
Thankfully, simplicity and speed are back on the radar and I’m hoping that these new tools can help us get back to knockin’ out 10 beats a day…we need to to keep up with rappers like Lil Wayne! These new tools are a perfect opportunity for Old Schoolers to come out of their caves and experience the ease (and cost savings!) of using a laptop. MOTU’s BPM combined with a keyboard/pad controller like Akai’s MPK25 or Korg’s padKontrol will open up a whole new world to any MPC addict. This is also a chance for laptop only producers to get physical and really bang out like the pioneers (think Primo, Pete Rock).
This has inspired me to take a hard look at simplifying my setup and workflow. I believe successful producers have to remember to be beat makers and not sound/plug-in collectors.
What are your thoughts? Do you like the MPC-style pad trend? Did you work faster on the MPC than you do now on a laptop? Check out the new stuff from NAMM below and tell me your thoughts?
Hip-hop purists might turn up their noses at this…but there was a time when DJ’s could be banned from the booth for “scratching the record”. The future…it’s coming whether we’re ready or not. This dude is sick wid it on the Monome!! Gotta get me one.