This ephemeral collection is as close to a documentary on Blactronica as I am going to get (this month). Since my investment in music making has not been as active as it should be, my music consuming is impressively voracious. It really helps me to know where the music that interests me comes from—this knowledge helps me to get closer to the music. My career in IT came from being close to the music.

When people ask me (in an IT context), “How did you get into computers?” My “strange” answer has always been that I heard them first. This little collection explains in way too much detail the meanings behind my “strange” answer.

What’s also strange for most is to think of Stevie Wonder as an electronic musician—but Stevie Wonder is from the Ray Charles school (among many others)—and it was Ray Charles who used an electric keyboard for the first time in widely distributed pop music—the song “What’d I Say.” So seeing Stevie Wonder with a tube in his mouth using a little thing called a talk box with his electric keys should not be a surprise.

Roger Troutman of Zapp made the talk box famous in the ’hood with all-time classic electronic jams like “More Bounce to the Ounce” and, my personal anthem, “Computer Love” that are permanently enshrined in the world of hip hop. But the prominence of hip hop (and the reason why most people on earth want to be a DJ) is because of Herbie Hancock and Grand Mixer DXT (with the help of Bill Laswell and Michael Beinhorn) in a song called “Rockit.”

Now, Roger Troutman came from the land of P-Funk, dominated by the brother, who knows how to “Funk a Stein”—a Steinway piano—as well as electric ones, Bernie Worrell. His release of the 1993 album, Blacktronic Science, brought the very word, Blacktronic, into my life. With these seminal events in place, the Blacktronic floodgates open—Egyptian Lover, Derrick May and Afrika Bambaataa approach the form different geographies and styles. Carl Craig, Tricky and Roni Size represent my age group of notable Blacktronic musicians.

So, while we do need to talk about Kraftwerk and Brian Eno, three out of five dentists agree that knowing about our Blacktronic roots helps prevent tooth decay! And, oh, by the way there is a documentary about some of the subjects covered here called High Tech Soul: The Creation of Techno Music.


Ray Charles is presented by mobbischer

Stevie Wonder appears via biffstudd and nonamenothing2

Roger Troutman and Zapp appears via talkboxier and NuDelic

Herbie Hancock appears via docpretorius

Bernie Worrell appears via 898106

Derrick May appears via blagmagik and Figfilm

Egyptian Lover is celebrated by aman028

Afrika Bambaataa appears via hades4o

Carl Craig appears via blagmagik and lectricworker

Gilberto Gil and Stevie Wonder appears via mexicatl

Tricky appears via StinkySoul

Roni Size appears via universalmusicgroup

The talk box is celebrated by anewgroove

Presentation Design and Research by
Bryan Wilhite