Another Roland Sound Is Big In Hip Hop, But It’s Not From An 808

Roland M-DC1 on Bobby Owsinski's Production BlogYou just never know what will be hot someday. Artists and labels have been dealing with this for years as a song that’s a throwaway at the time of recording becomes a big unexpected hit later. You can just never tell. No one could have predicted the influence that the Roland TR-808 would have in hip hop when it was released, but more than 30 years on it’s still a mainstay sound of the genre and has crossed over to other genres as well. Now there’s another Roland sound that’s all over hip hip songs that you’ve probably heard, but didn’t zero in on until now. Meet “Ahh (169).”

Ahh (169) was a patch from the 1995 Roland M-DC1 MIDI sound module (seen on the left) filled with “dance” sounds.  The hardware rack module had 250 sounds built in, but was never that popular when it was new, mostly because it wasn’t that easy to use. However some of its sounds have found a new life as samples in today’s digital world, with Ahh (169) being the most used (you can see a full list here).

According to WhoSampled, it’s been used on 138 tracks so far. Songs from Timbaland, Travis Scott, Migos, and Niki Manaj among many others have featured the sound.

The one sad thing it though is that no one seems to remember who created it, and Roland states that it no longer has the records about the background of the sounds in the unit.

It just goes to show that no one can predict popularity. You never know if the sound or song that you think is a piece of crap will be greeted as something new and vibrant by someone else, or vice versa. That’s what makes being a musician, songwriter and producer interesting every single day. The quest for discovery of something different extends way beyond the normal and routine, right down to sound makers that we might have shunned in our youth. You just never know.

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