Ok so now that you're done with that little mental exercise, I know a fair chunk of you (those who aren't already familiar with the story) are like "WAIT A SECOND CHRISSY, what the hell do a bunch of square-ass Teutonic stiffs have to do with hip hop?" Well here's the short version:
Square-ass Teutonic stiffs start out as proggy art-rock band, get into electronics, start making their own instruments and by 1974 are making super-rigid 100% electronic pop tunes. By 1977, said pop tunes have been picked up by New York disco DJs, who were always hunting for something new and different and odd and pulsating and yadda yadda yadda. Among these were the first wave of hip hop DJs (Kool Herc, Grandmaster Flash, Afrika Bambaataa, etc.), who absolutely ate the stuff up. As Detroit techno legend Carl Craig said, "Kraftwerk were so stiff, they were funky."
So thanks to Kraftwerk (and others, don't get me wrong), you suddenly had a sea-change in the then-fledgling hip hop scene: things moved away from party raps over disco records, and toward sparse futuristic compositions made from scratch with drum machines, synths, and samplers. 30 years later, and mainstream hip hop still sounds like it has more in common with Kraftwerk than anything black or American (besides techno, of course).
It's a similar story with techno, in fact—as well as with synth pop, new wave, and a long list of other genres: disco + Kraftwerk = bizarre new hybrid genre with lots of crazy electronic gadgets and a bunch of futuristic posturing. Like many artists lucky enough to have a nearly 40-year career, Kraftwerk have had an interesting career arc: they've gone from being groundbreaking visionaries who changed modern music to largely mimicking the new styles they helped inspire. While their new records can't be called innovative, they're often still quite good.
Anyway, I've whipped up a mix which I hope will appeal to both hardcore Kraftwerk fans, people who hate Kraftwerk, and people who know nothing about Kraftwerk. Part one contains most of the really essential Kraftwerk tunes: the stuff you NEED to hear to be a culturally literate citizen of the 21st century. The second part is all the stuff that has borrowed from Kraftwerk. Some of it is good, some of it is terrible, all of it is beyond what these four Germans could've imagined in 1977.
Chrissy Murderbot's Year of Mixtapes Week 19, Part 1: What you absolutely must know of Kraftwerk.
- Kraftwerk; Trans-Europe Express (1977)
- Kraftwerk; The Model (1978)
- Kraftwerk; The Robots (1978)
- Kraftwerk; The Man Machine (1978)
- Kraftwerk; It's More Fun To Compute / Home Computer (1981)
- Kraftwerk; Numbers / Computer World 2 (1981)
- Kraftwerk; Tour De France (François K. Remix) (1983)
- Kraftwerk; Computer Love (Remix) (1991)
- Afrika Bambaataa & The Soulsonic Force; Planet Rock (Tommy Boy, 1982)
- The Egyptian Lover; Egypt Egypt (Freak Beat Records, 1984)
- B.O.S.E.; Rock The World (Rock Well, 1987)
- Techmaster P.E.B.; Bass Computer (Newtown Music, 1991)
- Fergie; Fergalicious (A&M, 2006)
- 2 Live Crew; D.K. Almighty (Luke Skyywalker, 1989)
- The Fearless Four; Rockin' It (Enjoy Records, 1982)
- MC A.D.E.; Bass Rock Express (4 Sight Records, 1985)
- Coldplay; Talk (EMI, 2005)
- Big Black; The Model (Touch & Go, 1987)
- Miss Kittin & The Hacker; Uno (International Deejay Gigolo Records, 1999)
- Frank De Wulf presents B-Sides Vol. 1; Reforced (Music Man, 1990)
- Señor Coconut y Su Conjunto; Home Computer (Emperor Norton; 1999)
- 6Blocc; Digits (LoDubs, 2007)
- Turf Talk f. Kaveo & Young Mugzi; Do The Robot (Sick Wid'It Records, 2004)
- DJ Rashad; Compute (Juke Trax, 2007)
- Godz of the Quad; We Comin' (Cut It Up Def, 1998)