By Anteneh Gebre
Album: The New Zapp IV U
Release: October 25, 1985
When I stopped sleeping on it: February 2015
If you’re reading this it’s too late. LOL JK you good fam. Welcome to Throwback Thursday. I’m your host, ya boy, and most importantly, your guilt free guide to prolific albums people look at you like a crazy person for not knowing, Anteneh Gebre.
Taking y’all way back this week with an album that came out before I was born. If you’re like me and drive around blasting old school R&B radio, you might be familiar with Zapp. If you’re not, here’s a quick break down: 80’s funk group made up of mostly members of the Troutman family, famous for using the talk box, a few big hits and very influential to G-Funk. Now that we got that out of the way, come ride with me.
For as long as I can remember, I’ve known “Computer Love” and “I Want To Be Your Man” and always loved them. Wow something just clicked. Zapp is the reason I love super auto tuned music. I used to hear these songs on the radio when I was a kid and ever since I’ve loved that effect. Damn, you guys got me soul searching mid post.
A couple months ago I was scrolling through my Tumblr dash and I saw a vine that was taken from this interview with Roger Troutman, the group’s lead singer, and just started flying through their discography on Spotify. I landed on the 4th LP and it’s the one with the most songs I enjoy so here I am. See how I go through all the stepped on work (no offense, Zapp) and give y’all that raw? SMH I spoil you guys too much.
The New Zapp IV U is Zapp’s 4th LP and it peaked at #8 on the Billboard R&B Chart. The album spawned what is arguably the group’s biggest hit, “Computer Love”. The album is obviously very funky, relying on the group’s signature use of the talk box, but also infusing elements of hip hop and rock. The album has songs you can play in the club, in the car, and when you’re with your special person or body pillow. Ya know, places.
The album starts with what might be the dopest intro ever. I can’t even explain it (#1 worst thing for a writer to admit lol) but just take my word. I HAVEN’T STEERED Y’ALL WRONG YET. NOTHING BUT BANGERS. But yeah, the album opens with “It Doesn’t Really Matter”, a song dedicated to the masters of funk and soul that came before them. They shout out James Brown, Stevie Wonder, Rick James, and others but it doesn’t sound like the slow shoutouts you may be used to in today’s music; it’s part of the song and a damn good part at that.
Next up is what I imagine a flame emoji would sound like if emojis made sounds. “Computer Love”. Roger Troutman, Shirley Murdock, & the man who in my opinion is the best male singer in the history of recorded music, UNCLE CHARLIE WILSON. All on one song. Incredible. In the interview I mentioned earlier, Roger wrote this song with Murdock in response to claims that he was a hack who couldn’t sing and used the talk box as a crutch. He doesn’t really prove them wrong though, seeing as how he used it heavily here too but fuck those people anyway. My man Roger got off on this one.
My favorite song on this record by far is “Radio People”. I never realized it but the song was in Ferris Bueller. It’s playing in the Porsche right before Cameron freaks out about the mileage on the car. God I love that movie. I wish I skipped more in high school. One time it snowed while we were already in school so everyone started mass texting (this was right before twitter really popped off with the 14-18 demographic) about having a snowball fight after 2nd period. Sure enough the bell rang and we all went outside and had an amazing time. Some of us got in cars and left. We got stopped by the assistant principal and had to give names so they could call our parents and make sure they said we could go home. I was the only one of the seven people in the car to give a fake name. Call it brown kid paranoia.
Anyway, “Radio People” is fucking incredible. The writing is super old school in that it’s an entire song about one thing (radios duh). It’s the most layered song on the record and I love it so much. Talk box on talk box on talk box. So much vocalizing going on you don’t know what to sing along to. This shit makes me think of that 80’s shimmy thing where you and another person sorta throw your boobs in each others faces. Who knows what that dance is called? Let me know.
The New Zapp IV U is fucking awesome. Put it on and dance around your house like you’re one of the Cosby kids or some shit. Just close the blinds first. I’d hate for one of you to end up on the TL getting ripped to shreds in less than 140 characters by some savage (read: me).
Favorites: “It Doesn’t Really Matter” “Radio People”
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