Almost two years after it premiered at the 2015 SXSW Film Festival, a film documenting the story of the Roland TR-808 drum machine, appropriately titled 808, will debut Dec. 9 as an Apple Music exclusive, then become available in the iTunes Movies store for download and rental on Dec. 16. The movie, produced by You Know Films in association with Atlantic Films, documents the story of how the drum machine became one of the most iconic musical instruments of the past 40 years despite only being in production from 1980 through 1983.
808 was written by Alexander Dunn and Luke Bainbridge and produced by Alex Noyer, who also serves as executive producer; Alexander Dunn, who directed the film; Atlantic Records chairman/co-CEO Craig Kallman; and Arthur Baker, also a co-executive producer.
Narrated by Beats 1’s Zane Lowe, it includes wide-ranging interviews with the likes of Afrika Bambaataa, Questlove, Pharrell, Rick Rubin, David Guetta, Phil Collins and several more, each of which pay tribute to the over-arching influence of a machine that changed the sound of music.
“The 808 has left an impactful mark on my life; it’s been the driving force for so may of my favorite records and I jumped at the chance to be involved,” Lowe says. “I wanted to learn more about how this incredible drum machine came to exist and it’s been exciting to hear other people’s stories and what it means to them. It’s the magic ingredient.”
At its SXSW premiere in March 2015, Billboard spoke to Noyer about developing the film based on “the cult of the 808.” “In the beginning, we wanted to find out what this machine means to people — their attachments, emotional memories, practical dependencies on it,” Noyer said. “We wanted to illustrate its legacy in hip-hop and electronic music. So we spoke with musicians over the course of three years, and it was astonishing how deep the industry’s relationship with the 808 goes. Fatboy Slim told us his whole career was impacted by it. By the time we were done shooting, Luke Bainbridge and Alex Dunn weaved all the little surprises and twists together into a story about how the sound traveled.”
The film will be preceded by its soundtrack, out Nov. 25 on all platforms via Big Beat Records, called 808: The Music, which will feature both old and new tracks, including Bambaataa’s iconic “Planet Rock” as well as the soundtrack’s first single “Nothing But Trouble” by Lil Wayne and Charlie Puth. Check out a new trailer for the film above and the official tracklist for the accompanying album below.
1. Afrika Bambaataa & The Soulsonic Force, “Planet Rock”
2. Beastie Boys, “Paul Revere”
3. Public Enemy, “Yo! Bum Rush the Show”
4. Man Parrish, “Hip Hop Be Bop (Don’t Stop)”
5. Planet Patrol, “Play At Your Own Risk”
6. Shannon, “Let The Music Play”
7. Strafe, “Set It Off”
8. T La Rock / Jazzy J, “It’s Yours”
9. 808 State, “Flow Coma”
10. Felix da Housecat, “Kickdrum”
11. Lil Jon & The East Side Boyz, “What U Gon’ Do” (feat. Lil Scrappy)
12. Flux Pavilion, “Vibrate”
13. Jamie xx, “Gosh”
14. Lil Wayne & Charlie Puth, “Nothing But Trouble”