Planet Rock (song)
From The Art and Popular Culture Encyclopedia
"Planet Rock" is a 1982 song by Afrika Bambaataa & the Soulsonic Force. It is widely regarded as one of the earliest and most influential rap songs. Although it was only a minor hit in the US and UK, it helped change the foundations of hip-hop and dance music. It is credited with giving birth to the electro style and helped pave the way for other genres such as techno and house.
Produced by Arthur Baker, "Planet Rock" blends synthesizer and vocoder sounds with breakbeating. It was influenced both by electronic artists such as Kraftwerk and the funk musician George Clinton. It was the first hip-hop recording to use a drum machine.
The main melody of "Planet Rock" is borrowed from the title track of Kraftwerk's electronic album Trans Europe Express. Another part of the song contains elements of the song "Numbers" from the Kraftwerk album Computer World, another track which was popular on black music dancefloors in the UK and the US. The borrowings eventually resulted in an out-of-court settlement between Kraftwerk and Tommy Boy Records head Tom Silverman.
Since its release, "Planet Rock" has had a large influence on music and on popular culture. In 2008, it was ranked number 21 on VH1's 100 Greatest Songs of Hip Hop. MC Common cited this song as a major influence on his album Universal Mind Control, especially in the title track.
In the Black Star cover of Slick Rick's "Children's Story," Mos Def criticizes a fictitious DJ for the overuse of sampling the classics. He says, "Jacked the beat from Planet Rock," notably ironic given the controversy with the similarities between the Kraftwerk single.
Jazz and neosoul vocalist Dwight Trible released a track on his 2005 album "Love is the Answer" entitled "I Was Born on Planet Rock" featuring rapper Scienz of Life, a tribute to "Planet Rock" and its legacy on hip hop culture and music.
Additionally, the song has been featured in the 2002 film Ali G Indahouse in what might be the film’s best-known scene, which features Ali G (Sacha Baron Cohen), Ricky C (Martin Freeman), and Dangerous Dave (Tony Way) breaking into the Prime Minister's mansion and getting through a laser room by breakdancing through the room and was used as the main theme of the 2006 basketball video game NBA 2K7 as well as in the Playstation 1 game Thrasher: Skate and Destroy.