Roger Linn is pretty danged good at changing the landscape of popular music production. We probably don’t need to tell you that his Linn LM-1 drum machine single-handedly brought sampled drums into the pop music lexicon. After the LM-1, he produced a sequel, the LinnDrum, before setting to work on the ill-fated Linn 9000, which combined sampled drums, user-sampling and sequencing into a huge, stability-challenged package. Unfortunately, Linn Electronics shuttered its doors just after the Linn 9000’s release.
Not one to let a good idea get away, Linn would put everything he had learned about drum machines, sequencing and sampling into his next beatbox design, Akai’s MPC-60. Released in 1988, the MPC-60 featured 12-bit sampling, a 99-track sequencer with a 60,000 note capacity and the now-familiar 4 x 4 grid of drum pads.
Somewhat austere in appearance, and built like a battleship, it should be off-putting. Yet the MPC-60 is all about the jam. It’s a joy to program and to play. There’s something about the Linn beatboxes that groove like nothing else in the business. The MPC-60 was destined to become the hip-hop and R&B production tool of choice, and no wonder. The machine emphasizes the beat and its 12-bit samples have a bit of grit to ‘em that suits urban styles.
A steadfast and inspiring performer, it deserves its reputation, and though Akai (along with just about everyone else) has churned out variations on the theme since its release, there are those who won’t use anything but the real deal.