Apple Music gets exclusive documentary about iconic drum machine


The TR-808 drum machine was a big part of the hip-hop and dance scene.
Photo: Roland

A documentary titled 808, chronicling the cultural impact of the Roland TR-808 drum machine, will debut as an Apple Music exclusive on December 9.

Narrated by Beats 1 DJ Zane Lowe and featuring interviews with various big music names — including Apple favorite Pharrell — the documentary previously debuted at 2015’s SXSW Film Festival, although this marks its first wide release.

Check out the trailer below.

In press materials Apple describes the documentary as follows:

“808, the heart of the beat that changed music. The acclaimed documentary that chronicles the incredible legacy of the TR808 drum machine will be exclusively available on Apple Music December 9th 2016. Discover the iconic records, artists and producers influenced by the 808’s unique beats and find out the secret behind its sudden discontinuation.”

This isn’t Apple’s first go-around with similar dives into music-themed videos on Apple Music. Earlier this year, Apple debuted the documentary, The Cash Money Story, about popular hip hop record label Cash Money Records, which Cash Money co-founder Birdman described as a “power move” deal on Apple’s part.


Apple also produced Drake’s video for “One Dance,” Eminem’s “Phenomenal,” and Pharrell’s “Happy” music videos, alongside a 45-minute “visual album” from Grammy-winning artist Frank Ocean.

A safe choice

The choice of 808 fits very comfortably in Apple Music’s parameters, which seem to be heavily skewed toward hip hop, as Apple tries to bring in a younger audience.

I’m certainly excited to check out the documentary, but it would be nice if Apple expanded its horizons a bit when it comes to original video content in 2017. Right now, it is very clear that music is a tacked-on extra to sell Apple Music, rather a bigger, bolder mission to redefine TV through original content.

While Amazon and Netflix continue to hoover up existing content from film festivals, while also commissioning their own, Apple seems to be playing it very safe with content reliant on people already under the Apple umbrella.

With that said, the documentary did receive good (if not spectacular) reviews when it first debuted at SXSW 2015.

Will you be watching 808? Leave your comments below.


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