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Review: 808

By Gadjo Cardenas Sevilla

Apple Music subscribers got a treat this week when 808, a documentary on the Roland TR-808 Drum Machine, was made available on the service (viewable via iTunes). The Roland 808 started as a tool to accompany organ players but in the hands of early rap and dance music producers it became the sound responsible for launching myriad music movements during the past 30 years.

The documentary is narrated by Beats 1 DJ Zane Lowe  and features interviews with musical luminaries iike Afrikaa Bambataa (whose Planet Rock served as the blueprint for just what could be achieved with this tool turned instrument), The Beasti Boys, Rick Rubin, Fatboy Slim, New Order and a host of many others whose use of the 808 defined their careers, hit songs and various followers.

If you're a music nerd, or simply enjoy music history, 808 is a must-see documentary. It is slickly produced, manages to keep tabs on how various musical movements were taking place around the globe as well as how various genres managed to inspire each other to create new forms. Fun fact, the 808 was only produced between 1980 and 1983, only 12,000 examples of this drum machine were made (apparently out of flawed circuits which gave it it's sound character), yet the 808's impact on the music industry and hundreds of songs that have topped charts can't be estimated. 

To watch the documentary, you need to have an active Apple Music account and simply search for 808 to get the 'music video.' Great coup for Apple Music to have this title available to its customers.

Rating: 4 out of 5

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