A genre of electronic music and early hip hop directly influenced by the use of the Roland TR-808 drum machines, and funk. Records in the genre typically feature drum machines and heavy electronic sounds, usually without vocals, although if vocals are present they are delivered in a deadpan manner, often through electronic distortion such as vocoding and talk boxing. This is the main distinction between electro and previously prominent genres such as disco, in which the electronic sound was only part of the instrumentation. It also palpably deviates from its predecessor boogie for being less vocal-oriented and more focused on electronic beats produced by drum machines.
Following the decline of disco music in the United States, electro emerged as a fusion of funk and New York boogie. Early hip hop and rap combined with German and Japanese electropop influences such as Kraftwerk and Yellow Magic Orchestra (YMO) inspired the birth of electro. In 1982, producer Arthur Baker with Afrika Bambaataa released the seminal “Planet Rock”, which was built using samples from Kraftwerk’s Trans-Europe Express (1977) and drum beats supplied by the TR-808. Planet Rock was followed later that year by another breakthrough electro record, Nunk by Warp 9. In 1983, Hashim created an electro-funk sound that influenced Herbie Hancock, resulting in his hit single “Rockit”. The early 1980s were the electro’s mainstream peak. By the mid-1980s, the genre moved away from its electronic and funk influences, using harder edged beats and rock samples, exemplified by Run DMC. Electro became popular again in the late 1990s with artists such as Anthony Rother and DJs such as Dave Clarke. The third wave of popularity occurred in 2007. Electro has branched out into subgenres, including electro core and skweee, which developed in Sweden and Finland.