Breakin’ In Space #7: Unknown And Three-D – Beatronic


Unknown DJ was the recording alias of Andre Manuel, a DJ/producer who pioneered the West Coast electro/hip-hop sound despite hailing from Detroit. Beatronic was Unknown's first release on Techno Hop, the label he founded that released the early records of Ice-T, including the proto-gangsta rap classic 6 in the Mornin'. Manuel would go on to taste considerable success as a producer for MC Eiht's gangsta rap crew Compton's Most Wanted. 

Beatronic is a tough, robotic electro track from 1984 that wears Manuel's Detroit roots in its deep, funky grooves. It lacks the otherworldy weirdness of some of the other tracks I've posted, but was massively popular with breakdancers. The slamming 808 drum track came courtesy of DJ Three-D, while Daniel "Perfect Tommy" Sofe, master of the Oberheim 8 synthesiser (recognisable from the block synth chords on Van Halen's Jump and also used by Prince on 1999), plays the melodic high frequency synth pattern. John Carpenter would be proud of that sinister bassline. Check the sequenced scratch pattern near the end of the track, a trick that Unknown repeated on a few of his records, most notably the classic 808 Beats.