Baker's Dozen

Artists discuss the 13 records that shaped their lives

This record when it came out absolutely blew my mind. The guy that did ‘Watermelon Man’ then doing ‘Rockit’? How do you get from being a consummate jazz artist – modern jazz at that, jazz you need a PhD to understand – then getting synthesisers, seeing Star Wars, going "right, I’m going to make this electro record," and changing the face of music? Even the video, it looks silly now, but seeing it on TV then it was mindblowing. But people didn’t know what to do with this tune… well, obviously the R&B and hip hop guys did, but it confused the hell out of a lot of people. But then it would. When you first heard that intro, the scratching then just "POW!", you’d look in disbelief, like "how is he just letting it go like that?" And even now, there’s not many tunes that command your attention from the off like that.

The brilliance is he could do simple, he could play as complex as anyone, but he had the confidence to do simple. He couldn’t really follow this record up – but there was no need. He’d done it, he made that statement, and he could go back into his comfort zone of jazz. But when that record came out, and still when you hear it today, it’s just… perfect. This b-boy, early hip hop era was important for me too, I loved all of that, I was learning to cut and scratch and mix the old breaks together, because I knew the early funk records too – though it was pretty hard to find two copies of some of those old 45s, there’d be a lot of digging away in record fairs trying to find another copy of Fred Wesley or whatever, and hoping it wasn’t such a ridiculous price that you wouldn’t be able to justify cutting the shit out of it on the decks. But that was the game, finding those breaks, the loops you could bring to the forefront and make something amazing, and I was completely on it… this is where I learned my dexterity skills.

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