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Love old school hip-hop? Thank Kraftwerk

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Kraftwerk playing in Zürich, Switzerland, 1976
Ueli Frey/CC by SA 3.0
Kraftwerk playing in Zürich, Switzerland, 1976

Almost 40 years ago, Kraftwerk produced a sound that influenced countless bands, solo artists and hip hop DJs. We talk to two pioneering L.A. DJs about their love of the group.

Kraftwerk, the legendary German electronic group, will take the stage later this month at the Hollywood Bowl, playing their hits behind a 3D projection as they continue an international tour.

If you talk to fans of the band, you’ll hear this a lot, but almost 40 years ago, Kraftwerk pioneered a sound that has influenced countless bands, solo artists and hip hop DJs.

If you weren’t sure about Kraftwerk’s early influence on hip hop, look no further than Afrika Bambaataa’s "Planet Rock," which samples Kraftwerk generously: 

Here in Los Angeles, two DJs helped bring Kraftwerk to the mainstream by incorporating the band’s sound into their music —

, a founding member of NWA, and Egyptian Lover, a pioneering electro and rap DJ.

Egyptian Lover, born Greg Broussard, was in high school when he discovered Kraftwerk:

I was in love with this girl in high school, but wasn't nothing happening. She wasn't talking to me. And one day she showed up at my house, and she knocked on the door in the back house. And when I looked through the peep-hole, I saw it was her. And I'm like "Oh my goodness! What is this girl doing at my house?"

So I opened the door and she handed me this album. She said she got it from the park — the radio station was at a park — and it was a promo copy, and she heard it on her father's record player. But she didn't have a record player herself, so could I put it on tape for her?

It was Kraftwerk's "Computer World." Never heard of this group, never heard of it. I saw these four guys on the cover and I'm like "OK, this is not my kind of music, but I'm gonna give it a chance because I like her."

So I put it on to make her tape, and I liked it. And then the next song came on, and I liked it even more! And when I flipped the record over, I just fell in love with this sound. It was so futuristic — I never heard nothing like this. I love this!

She came back to pick up the album, and she said, "You can keep the album, I just want the tape." I was so happy that I kept that album.

And eventually, I met that girl again at the 10-year reunion in high school. I ended up marrying her.

Arabian Prince says Kraftwerk's influence is universal:

A lot of people won't admit it. I know a lot of people who won't even claim, "Oh yeah, I got that from Kraftwerk." Yeah, you did. 

If you haven't listened to Kraftwerk, definitely pick them up and go back and listen to it, because you'll hear a lot of music that came from Kraftwerk from back in the day. Modern stuff like Missy Elliott's "Lose Control," which is Cybotron's "Clear," which is Kraftwerk! 

Listen to the full interview above, or, if you feel like dancing, check out Off-Ramp's playlist of Kraftwerk (and Kraftwerk-inspired) tracks below:

Kraftwerk comes to the Hollywood Bowl on Sunday, Sept. 18.

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