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Re Run Thursday's: Things That Go Boom, The History Of Miami Bass

by Travis on March 27, 2008

Trav’s Note – When you’ve been doing this for almost two and a half years, you build up quite the “portfolio” of posts. I realize that the visitor base has changed through out that time. I have some regular visitors at one time I see much on the site and I know there are some new heads just now checking out the site lately. I like to think I had some pretty good posts in those early days when we were still starting out that might have been missed. So when I’m feelin’ a little lazy and don’t feel like spending the two to three hours after work to crank out post for the next morning, I’m going to toss up one of the old school posts. Tonight, I’m bringing back one of my favorite topics, the Miami Bass sound. I was a big fan of the Miami Bass sound. I loved to hear my little Jetta go “BOOM”. So in effort to bring some more attention to a post I did in September of 2006 (we’d just started building up decent numbers) I figured I’d post it up one more time, along with some of my favorite albums of the genre.

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 another 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 definitely 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 accessible 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 forgot, 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 early Beastie Boys, LL Cool J and Run DMC productions in later albums. The sound started catching a hold 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.

Trav’s Note - This next part came in form of a comment from a reader. I found it very informative, and although it differs from my account in some ways, I will be the first to admit I don’t know anything. This person might be more on track as of its roots so I thought I’d post it as well……

PappaWheelie said…

As for what the roots of Miami Bass are, m
y research suggests it’s multi-pronged. The first element is simply the end of Miami’s massive TK Records in 1981, yet, the continuation of Tone Distribution. Henry Stone (the man behind both) knew the dollars sold on Planet Rock in 1982 since he helped distribute it — so he hired guns (Joe Galdo, Freddy Stonewall, Larry Dermer, et al) to recreate something similar for the next couple years to be released on his new label Sunnyview. The second element was when the never-released B-Boy film Cry of the City came to town in the Spring of 1984. They (former mob boss Michael Franzise and company) were the first to hire Amos Larkins as a record producer (rather than session man as Henry had been doing prior) for the MC Flex & The FBI Crew release (Rockin’ It). Henry distributed that too, knew the numbers sold, and gave Amos an outlet at Sunnyview’s sublabels in 1984 (leading to Double Duce, which was a string of singles, not an album). The third prong was the success of Rubin’s sustained 808 jams that led to the *Top 40* success of LL’s Rock the Bells in 1985. That hit inspired Amos & Henry, and subsequently MC A.D.E. (who denies the 16th b’day point now). ADE and his dad were selling tons of Amos records from their Royal Sounds store, so he hired Amos to produce a 4-Sight single (Bass Rock Express). That record caused a national trend for bass (Rodney O in LA, Original Concept in NY, T La Rock in NY, etc). Technically, that was the beginning of Miami Bass – but the elements as we know it today all came together as a result of South Florida park DJs in 1985/1986, who knew the crowd wanted the tempo of 1984 era Electro, and the sustained 808 kick of 1985 Amos/Rubin tracks — so they played sets of both. Once 2 Live Crew was beginning to relocate to Florida in 1986, they brought the elements together in one song (Throw the D). Luke was just a DJ/promoter with Ghetto Style DJs at the time (and he invested in/managed 2 Live by then), and his success playing Throw the D at his Pac Jam club showed other producers what to do. By August of 1987, the SP1200 sampler came out changing Hip-Hop to sample based music, however, nowhere outside of NYC was part of the pedigree that produced and used Breakbeat Lenny’s Ultimate Breaks and Beats series of samples — so South Florida (and the West Coast) used the SP1200 differently, giving us “Give it All You Got” and the remainder of the 2nd wave bass (through 1991)[this means Lyn Collins' "Think" was not part of the Miami Bass palette as that was from UB&B initially]. Once 2 Live broke up, Mr. Mixx moved to Oakland leaving Luke Records without an inhouse producer (this is also when the MPC60II took hold to replace the SP1200). Without Mr. Mixx creating hits for Luke, and with Magic Mike having moved onto Hank Shocklee inspired Hip-Hop, the scene needed new inspiration in late 1991/early 1992. That was the reason for Devastator’s extreme uptempo “booty shake” sound (think I Wanna Rock/Doo Doo Brown & Shake Watcha Mama Gave Ya). By 1992/1993, everyone copied Devastator’s sound (and JT Money’s vocal cadence) for the next so many years (or came from outside South Florida, such as Tag Team or Quad City DJs). Later, Luke alumni such as DJ Toomp and other ATL Bass producers such as DJ Smurf (now Mr. Collipark) went on to produce huge HUGE top 40 new school rap hits for T.I. and Ying Yang, which brings us up to date. Despite these clarifications, it’s nice to see much of my sentiments coming back to haunt me though…

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 the other tracks were traditional hip hop tracks, but still had that kick behind them.

I remember my best friends cousin was visiting 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.

Gucci Crew II – So Def, So Fresh, So Stupid (Gucci Records, 1987) (**VINYL RIP**)

A1 Gucci Bass
A2 The Cabbage Patch
A3 Till The Day We Die
A4 Sally “That Girl”
A5 We’re Def – Yall
B1 Gucci Broke
B2 Get’em Girls
B3 And The Beat Goes
B4 Dating Game

Miami Boyz – Getting Off (On Top Records, 1988)

1. Do You Want to Party
2. For Ever Stand by Me
3. Get Off Miami Boyz
4. Love Signs
5. Miami Boyz Ready to Go
6. Bug Out
7. Let’s Get Down
8. Get Stupid
9. Who’s Running Things

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