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Things That Go BOOM: Miami Bass Part One

by Travis on September 5, 2006

You know the feeling, your car rattling so damn bad that you can’t see out your rear view mirror. You could feel it in your chest and in your gut. You would tie something on your mirror just to see how much you could get it to jump when the 808 kick drum hit. Little kids would run and hide when you came rolling down the block. Old men would shake their fist at you. Cops would pull you over just to tell you to turn it down. As the Masta himself would say in Jeep Ass Nigguh:

“Black boy, black boy, turn that shit down/You know that America don’t wanna hear the sound/Of the bass drum jungle music/Go back to Afrika/Niguh, I’ll arrest ya if you’re holding up traffic/I’ll be damned if I listen/So cops, save your breath and/Write antoher ticket if you have any left..”

Your trunk was useless with all the speaker equipment in it. A box with Twelve’s or Fifteen’s, an amp big enough that you needed two batteries to run it, if you didn’t, your headlights would be dimming to the sound of the bass. Sure you could play your boom bap shit, but if you were like me in the late 80′s and early 90′s, the music of choice to get the trunk rattling was any Miami Bass artist that had the type of bass that could wake the dead with in a block when you rolled by. Miami Bass, that type of shit every cat had to show off his system.

History Lesson
Now, I’m definately not the one that should be doing this little write up. Yes, I was into the whole Miami Bass thing for a few years, 89′-91′ or so, but I’m by no means an expert on the whole genre. Even then I was into the more accessable albums such as MC Shy D, Gucci Crew II, 2 Live and those type albums. Only the past year or so, I’ve been trying to catch up on some of the genre that I fogot, missed, or passed over back then, thanks to a lot of help from Tommy B of Miscreant Productions.

The Roots Of Miami Bass

The roots of the Miami Bass movement are very debatable and depending on what source you read, the genre could have had its start in a number of ways. The common perception is that you can trace the Miami Bass sound through the early days of electro grooves of Kraftwerk in the late 70′s and Afrika Bambaataa and the Soulsonic Force in the early 80′s. Kraftwerk was a german group that is kind of hard to put a label on, but they are credited with influencing a major portion of the NY music scene in the early 80′s including Bam and his crew along with George Clinton and the funk scene along with soul and dance music of the time as well.

The Miami bass sound’s backbone is the high BPM’s (beats per minute) and the Roland TR-808 drum machine. The first hip hop influenced song credited with using the 808 kick drum was Afrika Bambaata’s monumental hit, “Planet Rock” that dropped in 82′. Rick Rubin & DJ Jazzy Jay would also feature the heavy bottomed kick drum on T La Rock’s “It’s Yours” in 83′ along with Run DMC’s “Together Forever (Krush Groove 4)”. Rubin would go on to use this blueprint in many of the ealry Beastie Boys, LL Cool J and Run DMC productions in later albums. The sound started catching ahold around the country as producers/musicians such as NY’s Mantronix, Miami’s Amos Larkin, and the little known west coast group 2 Live Crew started to use this formula in their music in 84 & 85.

The Beginnings

South Florida was in the electro mix from the get go in the early 80′s. Producers such as Pretty Tony, DXJ, Larry Dermer, Freddy Stonewall,Michael Sterling, Eugene Cooper, Noel Williams, Dwayne Omarr and the x-rated Clarence Reid aka “Blowfly” who would go on to serve as influence to 2 Live’s x-rated lyrics. Which Miami artist is credited with first using the 808 in a song is debatable as well. It is thought Double Dose’s “Commin’ in Fresh” in 85′ is often cited as the first Rap album to use the 808′. Miami legend, Amos Larkin produced the song, and by mistake used the 808 and after releasing a test copy to a select few, was convinced to keep the sound. It is said this was the blueprint for the Miami bass sound in the future.

Adrian Hines, son of label/record store owner Billy Hines is also said to have the first “true” bass record with his 12″ Bass Rock Express also in 85′. Billy Hines ran 4-Sight Records out of his record shop which released regional rap and electro acts. For Adrain’s sixteenth birthday, Billy Hines secured studio time for this son, who along with Amos Larkin, would produce “Bass Rock Express” under Adrian’s MC moniker M.C. A.D.E. (Adrian Does Everything). It was styled closely “Planet Rock” and the electro style, but it’s the first to reference the bass in the track and the title.

Coming Tomorrow: Luke Skyywalker & The 2 Live Crew and the penacle of the Bass Sound.

MC A.D.E.How Much Can You Take (4-Sight Records, 1989)

01 Go A.D.E 02 How Much Can You Take 03 To The Fan’s 04 Sex, Crime, Drugs 05 Hit Harder 06 Da ‘Train 07 A.D.E. Got It Going On 08 Lyric Licking 09 Money Hounding Ho’s 10 Physician 11 It’s Crazy 12 Control

This album is my favorite of the genre. Hard hitting bass, possibly the hardest I’ve ever ran across (I never listened to those car audio joints, so those might have more) that would just roll so hard, but would be so clear. Maybe it was the way I had my system set up or something, but this was the CD I’d use to test out any car stereo. “Hit Harder” was my shit, but “Control”, “How Much Can You Take”, and “Da’ Train” all had crazy crazy bass. Some of ther other tracks were traditional hip hop tracks, but still had that kick behind them.

I remember my best friends cousin was visting from Vegas and he played this for us. I fell in love with it. It was something that we couldn’t find in my little ho-dunk town at the time, so I think I ended up trading him a 12 pack of beer (as seniors in high school, getting beer was a bit of a chore) for the CD itself. Somehow over the years I lost it, but it was pretty beat up anyway. I finally got the hook up from my man Tommy B over at Miscreant Productions. This is an ebay and amazon treasure with people paying around hundred bucks and more for the CD and wax versions.

Tomorrow (hopefully) part two of the Miami Bass history, part two in the album highlites. Also, I will be upping Vol 8 and 3 for the WYDU Classics for those of you asking about them. Peace, til tomorrow1


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