The formidable funk legacy of Dayton, Ohio trailblazers Zapp will be burnished by the Oct. 26 release on Leopard Records of Zapp VII: Roger & Friends.
The album arrives almost 20 years since the death of the group’s prime mover and frontman, Roger Troutman, and his older brother Larry, two of the four brothers who founded Zapp in 1978. But with the help of guests such as Snoop Dogg, Kurupt, Frankie J and the band’s original producer Bootsy Collins, Zapp VII recalls the feisty, dancefloor-friendly sound that was fueled by Roger’s trademark voicebox vocal technique and which produced some of the most-sampled discs in hip-hop. One of those new tracks, “Parking Lot” premieres here — click here to listen.
Zapp exploded onto the R&B scene in 1980 with the Hot R&B/Hip-Hop Songs No. 2 hit “More Bounce To The Ounce,” which helped their self-titled debut album go gold. Even greater success was to follow in 1982 with the Hot R&B/Hip-Hop Songs No. 1 “Dance Floor” and subsequent hits through the 1980s such as “Doo Wa Ditty (Blow That Thing)”, “I Can Make You Dance” and “Computer Love.” Snoop Dogg was one of the countless hip-hop notables who sampled the band’s work, as were EPMD, the Notorious B.I.G., Public Enemy, Ice Cube and Eazy-E.
Zapp II, The New Zapp IV U and the 1993 compilation All The Greatest Hits were also gold-certified albums; Roger, as he was widely known, enjoyed solo acclaim including a Top R&B/Hip-Hop Albums No. 1 album with 1981’s The Many Facets Of Roger, which featured a chart-topping update of “I Heard It Through The Grapevine” in his signature style.
“I’m sure [‘More Bounce’] has over 600 cleared samples now,” says Lester Troutman Jr. who, as the son of Zapp’s original drummer Lester Troutman Sr., now manages their business affairs. “That song was hit hard. It was up there with some of James Brown’s catalog. It almost got to the point where if you wanted some kind of commercial success, you had to get a Zapp-Roger sample.”
The new album also features posthumous appearances by Roger on “Red & Dollars” and “Angel,” pieced together from an early demo, and elsewhere he is heard explaining the evolution of his talkbox sound.
“This group has always been about three things,” says Troutman, Jr. “Hook ‘em, get ‘em dancin’ and keep ‘em dancin’. And I honestly think the secret to Zapp has always been its authenticity. They genuinely want to make you get up and really dance and just forget about all your troubles, and it comes out through the music.”