One of the driving forces in early hip hop and Electrofunk was DJ / producer Arther Baker. Starting as a club DJ in the early 70s, he began experimenting with the new electronic sounds of the day and began producing remixes on analog tape. Long before digital took over, to create a quality mix required skill and patience since most of what you were doing was pretty much live. You needed mad skillz back in the day not like these days were software downloaded for free can create a remix on a whim.
Though you may not have heard of him, you certainly have heard his work since his collaborations include artists like Afrika Bambaataa and the Soul Sonic Force, Pet Shop Boys, Cyndi Lauper, Hall and Oats, Bruce Springsteen, David Bowie, ABC, Nenah Cherry and New Order to name a few. He was actually responsible for taking an obscure, instrumental piece from a 1984 New Order album “Lies, Power and Corruption” and churning it into the now classic Blue Monday.
His style was easily recognizable with heavy emphasis on the rhythm track with heavy use of drum machines and 808 sounds that pretty much defined the genre. He brought some contemporary artists to the mainstream with his remixes and also forces some artists to expand their horizons a bit by introducing new life into their usual style.
In 1985, he and Steven Van Zandt created Artists United Against Apartheid and created the anti-Apartheid anthem “Sun City” which helped raise global awareness of Apartheid in South Africa and was credited for being a major factor in it’s eventual demise. (Who says music can’t change the world ?)
His influence is still felt today and continues to inspire new artists and DJs as well as producers and remixers. Here’s a few more classic examples of his early style.