The king of the TR-808: Egyptian Lover on the iconic drum machine

Gregory James Broussard, better known as Egyptian Lover, is a legend in the electro and hip hop scenes.

Egyptian Lover got his start making mixtapes as a teenager, rhyming over tracks he recorded off of the radio before taking his mix of rhymes and electro beats to the LA streets as a member of Uncle Jamm’s Army. Synonymous with the Roland TR-808, he made history with his singles “Egypt Egypt” (1984) and “Freak-A-Holic” (1986).

His signature pioneering move at one of his first DJ gigs was rewinding one of the records while another was still playing—history was made at that party.

In celebration of 808 day and the release of his new sample pack, Egyptian Lover sat down with us above to discuss his relationship with the TR-808, bringing two hardware 808 units and a vocoder to lay down some samples and vocals.

“When I started out, all I had was the 808,” Egyptian Lover shares. “So, I learned everything about it: the accent coming out, different programs, how to speed it up and slow it down—I became the king of the 808.”

“So, even if you only have one or two instruments, just learn that instrument. If you do, you don’t need a whole bunch of other ones—just become the master of that one instrument or those two instruments. Then, you’ll create a new thing with what you have. It’s not how much you have, but how much you know with what you have.”

Incorporate Egyptian Lover’s timeless sounds into your own productions:

August 8, 2023

Harrison Shimazu

Harrison Shimazu is a composer, content strategist, and writer who’s passionate about democratizing music creation and education. He leads the Splice blog and produces vocaloid music as Namaboku.