Long before Autotune, the Talkbox reigned as the King of the West Coast
Many of todays Hip Hop/ Rap fans may have never heard of the group Zapp – or their front man Roger Troutman – but they are arguably one of the most influential groups in the history of West Coast Rap/ Hip Hop – and Popular Music in general. A few of their more well known hits include “Computer Love”, ” I Wanna Be Your Man” and “I Heard It Through The Grapevine”.
I doubt there are many of you who haven’t heard the song California Love by 2pac and Dr Dre. You have all heard Roger Troutman play the Talkbox. What you may not be aware of is the fact that Zapp & Roger originally created that song, releasing it on the album Zapp IV back in 1985.
There have been very few producers/ artists throughout the years to use the talkbox at all, even fewer have used it to the extent or on the level that Roger did. Troutman (who was rumored to have been mentored on the Talkbox by the great Stevie Wonder) used it in a way that was unforgettable, and has been sampled and resampled throughout the years by West Coast Rap artists.
The Talkbox is basically a small speaker box that you plug an instrument into, that has a plastic tube sticking out of it – and very few have been able to master it. When an artist is able to really put the talkbox to work, the effects are almost always magical. A few other examples of artists to use the Talkbox; Peter Frampton, Joe Walsh, DJ Fingaz, Bozko, and Rogers own son – Roger Troutman Jr.
Fahrenheit/ Blue Nose Music Rapper 5ive 3re is a young artist emerging from the Seattle-Tacoma Wa Underground Rap scene, who works his hardest to bring the Talkbox back to life and to the ears of today’s Hip Hop/ Rap listeners.
While the majority of artists and listeners his age were following the latest and “greatest” trends of thier time (the late 90’s and early 2000’s) 5ive 3re spent his time studying the music of the 70’s/80’s and early 90’s. He went on long stretches of time when all he listened to was Zapp & Roger; wishing that he could get his hands on a talkbox. These days he spends hours on end playing the keyboard, whether its the MicroKorg, a Yamaha, or simply his laptop keyboard running a musical interface. He says he wants to make an entire album using only the Talkbox, though that may just be his ambition and passion for the box encouraging him into hyperbole.
5ive 3re (pronounced Five Tre) – writes his own music and records/ talkboxes under the umbrella of Fahrenheit Records, based out of Northern California – through the small Seattle-based Rap label Blue Nose Music.
Currently, you can find 3res first album “Experience 5ive 3re” on all major online retailers (iTunes, Amazon, Spotify etc) While he prepares to release a duo-project with fellow Fahrenheit/ Blue Nose emcee Greg Double entitled “2 Rap Katz”, and continues recording his 2nd album ” Hungry With No Appetite “
So to the West Coast Rap fan out there, rest assured the instrument that helped shape the sound – and the culture of the West; is living and well.. And it lives in the Northwest.
– Greg Double, Blue Nose/ Fahrenheit Records