Kraftwerk fever might have ruffled many of you the prickly way, what with the Great Unobtainable Online Tickets Ruse blighting the band’s series of eight chronological album-by-album shows at MoMA this week. But let’s look on the bright side! Over the years the Dusseldorf dance merchants have churned out an exquisite sequence of moody electronic tracks, and done so in a manner that’s influenced great chunks of the rap and electro scenes. Here’s a look at seven fantastic samples from the vault of the ‘Werk.
7. The Egyptian Lover, “Egypt, Egypt”
Samples: “Tour de France”
A west coast colleague of Ice-T from the Law & Order: SVU mainstay’s electro days, Egyptian Lover crafted a series of early ’80s jams that are still appreciated to this day—he toured with M.I.A. a few years back and has remixed Stones Throw oddball James Pants. The Lover’s ode to his conceptual homeland, “Egypt Egypt,” borrows liberally and slickly from Kraftwerk’s francophile anthem. The Pharoah-styled headdress is strictly mandatory.
6. Chemical Brothers, “Leave Home”
Samples: “Ohm Sweet Ohm”
Anything a hip-hop type has sampled, so too have boisterous UK dance merchants the Chemical Brothers, and Kraftwerk’s back catalogue is no different. This time it’s the pun-tastic “Ohm Sweet Ohm” which gets the big beat treatment—although it’s the Kraftwerk original, with its spooky robotic voice, that’s guaranteed to tinker with the wits of small children if played late at night.
5. K.L.F., “What Time Is Love?”
Samples: “Home Computer”
One of a stream of samples that also includes nabs from MC5, Mantronix and Wanda Dee, dance music’s least economically frugal mixed in the electronic vibraphone-esque ditty from “Home Computer” for their sampladelic ’88 crossover hit. It’s a shame they couldn’t work in a Dr. Who reference for top pop-cultural anarchy kicks though.
4. Panda Bear, “Good Girl/Carrots”
Samples: “Ananas Symphonie”
In which one of the bods behind Animal Collective takes the ice-cream-truck-sounding tinkle from the opening section of Kraftwerk’s “Ananas Symphonie” and weaves it into the latter part of a sprawling, near-13-minute (possible) ode to the healthful joys of getting your daily dose of beta carotene. The sampled refrain is also used to close out “Good Girl/Carrots,” and does so with a gentle ease.
3. MC Lyte, “Cha Cha Cha”
Samples: “The Man Machine”
“You can cha-cha-cha to this mardi gras/ I’m the dopest female that you’ve heard thus far.” Opening rap couplets don’t get much perkier than MC Lyte’s salvo here—and not just because of the quite excellent use of the ye olde Englishe “thus.” The rest of the song is a lesson in lively rap quotables, which pairs well with King of Chill’s cheerful and vibrant beat. Jay-Z also reprised the sample in tandem with Foxy Brown for “Sunshine,” but it’s best to pretend that particular poppy atrocity was just a by-product of the Roc’s Damon Dash years.
2. New Order, “Blue Monday”
More electro-pop connections, this time with the elegiac murmur that runs throughout Kraftwerk’s “Uranium” being introduced into the mix of Bernard Sumner and pals’ Hacienda club classic. Sample hounds will want to skip to around the one-and-a-half minute mark of “Blue Monday” to catch the re-appropriation.
1. Afrika Bambaataa & The Soulsonic Force, “Planet Rock”
Samples: “Trans-Europe Express”
Hip-hop’s greatest Bronx-to-Germany connection, Afrika Bambaataa’s groundbreaking “Planet Rock” is a rap anthem that’s hooked around Kraftwerk’s moody “Trans-Europe Express.” Interpolating that song’s synth line for its signature riff, Bam and fellow producers Arthur Baker and John Robie helped established the electro era. Glorious in execution, “Planet Rock” is also one of those rare examples of a song that seems to give extra life and gravitas its sample source—a livin’ dream, indeed.