Breakin’ In Space #13: The Fearless Four – Just Rock
You might remember Harlem crew The Fearless Four for their sweeter than honey close-vocal harmonies on 'Dedication', which appeared on Electro 7, mixing into the downright weird 'Itchiban Scratch' by Chris "The Glove" Taylor (already written about here). Or perhaps you might recall their debut single, 'Rockin' It', which was based around a sample from Kraftwerk's 'The Man-Machine' and featured in the amazing 1983 doc Style Wars about hip-hop culture and New York's graffiti scene.
The chances are you might not have heard ‘Just Rock’, their first single after signing to Elektra in 1983, when they became the first rap crew to be picked up by a major. 'Just Rock' was mixed by Larry Levan – yes, that Larry Levan – and featured a big ol' sample from Gary Numan's 'Cars'. They also appropriated the vocal melody for their rhymes. It's an absolute beaut, a proper upbeat party tune augmented with samples of people having a good time, and is weirdly one of the few electro/hip-hop tracks to sample ‘Cars’ (with some of the keyboard parts replayed by Pumpkin), despite electro's penchant for all things Numan. ‘Films’, from The Pleasure Principle, the 1979 album that spawned 'Cars', is one of the original hip-hop breaks according to no less an authority than Afrika Bambaataa.
Despite a ledge on the scale of Af-Bam always sounding off about what an influential pioneer Gazza was, there's still the overriding feeling that the robo-pop geezer has never really got his dues. That's probably down to the fact that he was vilified by the press and his jealous synth-pop contemporaries when he first emerged. But when Juan Atkins tells you that he was turned on to electronic music after seeing Numan perform on Saturday Night Live, you have to take notice.