While the current state of hip hop is quite a few leaps away from the post-industrial electronics manufacturing boom in Post-WWII Japan, its impact should not be discounted. One of the key players in the creation of the TR-808 drum machine, one of the most popular drum machines of all time, has apparently passed away at the age of 87.
Ikutaro Kakehashi founded the Roland Corporation in 1972, which went on to manufacture all manner of music-making equipment, from effects pedals, to electric pianos and synthesizers. Perhaps his most lasting impact was the creation of the TR-808 and TR-909 drum machines. According to one source, the TR-808 drum machine has been utilized on more hit records – including Marvin Gaye’s “Sexual Healing” and Afrikaa Bambaataa’s “Planet Rock” – than any other drum machine. The TR-909 was the first drum machine to utilize the MIDI sound format, which is still in use today by pretty much any producer you can think of.
All of this may seem abstract in the context of FL Studio, which allows you to chart out your drums without having to play the rhythm yourself. However, even the chartable format of drum sequencing owes itself to the 808. Kanye West’s 808s and Heartbreak album is a more obvious connection to the classic 1980s drum machine.
The legendary businessman was commemorated by a longtime collaborator on Facebook, although neither the company nor Ikutaro’s family have made an official statement about his passing. We won’t bore you with the insanely long list of music products created by The Roland Company under his tenure, but one look at the Wikipedia page is all you need.