Has 808’s and Heartbreak influenced the sound of popular music?


On first listen, 808 and Heartbreaks was difficult for me to comprehend. I was used to Kanye experimenting from soul sampling on College Dropout to live instruments on Late Registration and then a futuristic stadium sound on Graduation.

However, 808’s rattled me a little. I didn’t like the already outdated concept of autotune and I wasn’t looking forward to another album full of 808 kicks, as a lot of the huge hits these days use 808’s (see Jim Jonsin and co).

So im driving, listening to Love Lockdown sometime last November/December, I hear a really dull 808 intro that leads all the way up to some bongos and pianos. I was intriuged but not blown away. Because I’m a Kanye fan I bought the album anyway.

One thing that seperated this album from others out at the time was that it was very 80’s sounding. Paranoid kind of reminded me of some Prince tracks, it was refreshing to hear. And Heartless was a pretty hard beat to tell you the truth. But the track that stood out for me the most on 808’s was Welcome To Heartbreak.

Welcome To Heartbreak set the tone for the album, the production was vintage 80’s era, sparse synth stabs, atmospheric soundscapes, knocking 808’s.

So  around 12 months later, I see the influence the production on 808’s has had on a lot of producers and artists.

1) Drake: Some of So Far Gones production is clearly influenced by 808’s and Heartbreaks, in particular Lust for Life and Houstatlantavegas.

2) Kid Cudi: His albums production follows on from 808’s and has a very atmospheric approach to it with tracks such as Heart of A Lion.

3)Rihanna: Russian Roulette has that slow heartbeat rythym which featured in Love Lockdown. The producer of the track has also tried to use the distorted 808 kick that Kanye used throughout his own album (but to no avail).

4) Mariah Carey: I was listening to Obsessed in the club the other night, it sounds like a poor mans Heartless. Maybe Im looking too deep into that one, but it does bare a strong resemblance to Heartless.

The album also had considerable input from long time collaborators Jon Brion, Jeff Bhasker and No I.D.  It will be interesting to see where Kanye wants to take his sound on his next album. I’m sure it will be just as advanced as his previous ones.

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About Harlem World

the BAWSE *ross grunt*

Posted on November 20, 2009, in Uncategorized. Bookmark the permalink. 3 Comments.

  1. That shit you said about Obsessed being a poor man’s Heartless is dead on. The first time I heard it I thought the same exact thing. Cool site. Stay up.

  2. Enlightening.

    808’s definitely does seem to leave it’s mark on many of today’s artists; most apparently seen in Drake and Cudi. The sing-rap structure of both their deliveries seem to be strikingly emulated from their mutual friend. Drake’s ‘So Far Gone’ was the result of such efforts, as his producer 40 produced deep and melodic productions such as “Houstonatlantavegas” and the newly leaked “Fireworks.”

    As for Cudi, I recall Kanye actually being influenced by his mixtape “Man on the Moon” and pulled a lot of his inspiration for 808’s from that mixtape..most notably Cudi’s melodic sing-rap delivery that comfortably complimented his production.

    Glad to see Kanye is reviving his boom-bap production…”Power” was so triumphant.

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