The 1980s marked the diversification of hip hop as the genre developed more complex styles. Early examples of the diversification process can be identified through such tracks as Grandmaster Flash's "The Adventures of Grandmaster Flash on the Wheels of Steel" (1981), a single consisting entirely of sampled tracks as well as Afrika Bambaataa's "Planet Rock" (1982), which signified the fusion of hip hop music with electro. In addition, Rammellzee & K-Rob's "Beat Bop" (1983) was a 'slow jam' which had a dub influence with its use of reverb and echo as texture and playful sound effects. The mid-1980s was marked by the influence of rock music, with the release of such albums as King of Rock and Licensed to Ill.
Heavy usage of the new generation of drum machines such as the Oberheim DMX and Roland 808 models was a characteristic of many 1980s songs. To this day the 808 kickdrum is traditionally used by hip hop producers. Over time sampling technology became more advanced; however earlier producers such as Marley Marl used drum machines to construct their beats from small excerpts of other beats in synchronisation, in his case, triggering 3 Korg sampling-delay units through a 808. Later, samplers such as the E-mu SP-1200 allowed not only more memory but more flexibility for creative production. This allowed the filtration and layering different hits, and with a possibility of re-sequencing them into a single piece.
With the emergence of a new generation of samplers such as the AKAI S900 in the late 1980s, producers did not require the aid of tape loops. Public Enemy's first album was created with the help of large tape loops. The process of looping break into a breakbeat now became more common with a sampler, now doing the job which so far had been done manually by the DJ. In 1989, DJ Mark James under the moniker "45 King", released "The 900 Number", a breakbeat track created by synchronizing samplers and vinyl.
The lyrical content of hip hop evolved as well. The early styles presented in the 1970s soon were replaced with metaphorical lyrics over more complex, multi-layered instrumentals. Artists such as Melle Mel, Rakim, Chuck D, and KRS-One revolutionized hip hop by transforming it into a more mature art form. The influential single "The Message" (1982) by Grandmaster Flash and the Furious Five is widely considered to be the pioneering force for conscious rap.
During the early 1980s, electro music was fused with elements of the hip hop movement, largely led by artists such as Cybotron, Hashim, Planet Patrol and Newcleus. The most notable proponent was Afrika Bambaataa who produced the single "Planet Rock".
Some rappers eventually became mainstream pop performers. Kurtis Blow's appearance in a Sprite commercial marked the first hip hop musician to represent a major product. The 1981 song "Christmas Wrapping" by the new-wave band The Waitresses was one of the first pop songs to use some rapping in the delivery.
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