Attack of the Killer Track! is a series that explores tracks from artists from a variety of genres. Some of the tracks were singles, some of them were obscure b-sides or long forgotten album tracks. One thing is certain – all of them are killer tracks.
The early days of hip hop collided with the early days of electronic music and no other artists encapsulated the era like Afrika Bambaataa & the Soulsonic Force. Bambaataa embraced the groundbreaking eerie synths used by Kraftwerk and Yellow Magic Orchestra and married the sounds to rhymes that were positive in nature. Produced by Arthur Baker, Planet Rock stands as the pinnacle of the sound & vision Afrika Bambaataa brought to music. Kraftwerk are a huge influence on this particular song – the TR-808 (and heartbreak) beat is based on the song Computer World while the melody is the synth line from Trans-Europe Express. The only other song I can think of that uses a sample to such stunning effect is the remix of Busta Rhymes Fire it Up that incorporates the Knight Rider theme. Planet Rock peaked at #4 on the soul charts and #48 on the Hot 100 – but has proven to be influential far beyond its modest chart positions. Hip-hop, dance, electronic, and trance all owe a huge debt to Afrika Bambaataa. The founders of Kraftwerk – Ralf Hütter & Florian Schneider – were later added as principal songwriters after reaching a settlement with Tommy Boy Records. Lyrically, this is a far cry from the later days of misogyny and violence in hip hop – in fact, the song is positively inspiring in places. With the perfect beat and infectious melody married to the perfect words, how can you go wrong? “You gotta rock it, pop it, ’cause it’s the century / There is such a place that creates such a melody / Our world is but a land of a master jam, get up and dance / It’s time to chase your dreams”