Mantronix - "Simple Simon"

Spring 1988, Denham Village, Buckinghamshire, UK ….. on the way to Syco Systems (high-end pro audio shop — by appointment only — caters only to high-end clientele and famous artists such as Peter Gabriel) to pick up the gear for my first studio (see pictures below)  ….. I heard this track by Mantornix on the radio.

Notice: If you need to know more about Mantronix and the man himself, Kurt Mantronik, refer to my previous blog Hanson & Davis. Please read that first and then come back here and continue reading this blog/article.

I used to dream about having a Linn-9000 one day, so I could load my own drum samples and program beats with its sequencer; I used to sit for hours and drool over the brochures of the Roland D-50 synth and think about how breathy and paddy (also see video below) my tracks would sound along with the Linn-9000 drums pulsing underneath. The D-50 was revolutionary at its time (1987), because it was the first synth to have built-in effects, such as the the reverb, attack-transient samples and linear synthesis, among many other things. When I went to Syco Systems with my dad to buy the new gear, Kendall Wrightson (see quick shout-out below) informed me that the Linn-9000 was no longer in production, because its parent company went bankrupt; however, its designer Roger Linn had come up with a much better machine through Akai. He pointed his finger towards the Akai MPC60 at the other end of the room. It was GORGEOUS. It looked like a mean machine with a tilting LCD screen! Oh, those 16 square rubber finger pads. I didn’t hesitate to add it on the transaction. Kendall said something along the lines that he had one in stock, boxed and with Tony Banks’ name on it (yes, Tony Banks — the keyboardist of Genesis), but Tony didn’t want it at the time. When I looked at the box, sure enough his name was in fact printed on the shipping label.

After picking up my new studio gear from Syco, I stopped by Our Price record store, bought the 12-inch of Simple Simon and then drove home from London to my parent’s country-home in Denham Village. I love this track through and through. It’s very melodic and street-emotional, especially the bassline. Love the guitars (which are not real but tone-sampled and played from a keyboard sampler). The sound and style is very different from Mantronix’ previous releases which were more freestyle-based. Simple Simon sounded more mature but still had that “Mantronix” feel … perhaps it was the snappy, hard drum samples and programming coming from an E-mu SP-1200. Whatever it was, it certainly had the Mantronix‘ stamp with MC Tee‘s rap vocals. These two guys really stood out with this one.

I used to play both A and B sides of the 12-inch. Check out the amazing editing and fast-gating on You Dubba Regard mix, which were very hard to produce. Around that same time of year, the Latin Rascals were doing clever edits like this, with stutters, splice-edits and gated chops. Check out their sound/edits on Information Society’s – What’s On Your Mind which I’ve blogged about previously.

Quick shout-out to Kendall Wrightson:

Kendall Wrightson
who was my personal salesman at Syco Systems. He was very well-known in the pro-audio industry, for representing and selling high-end gear like the Fairlight (watch Kendall’s demonstration), SyclaviersSSL mixer consoles, etc.. There were times when Kendall used to let me and my best friend Noel Derblich to go inside one of Syco‘s studio rooms and transfer samples from the E-mu Emulator-III (also watch video here) to my Akai MPC60 drum-sampler/sequencer (64 midi channel, 99 tracks). Kendall was also featured in several documentaries about music technology.

Mantronix – “Simple Simon” (You Gotta Rock Hard)…

Artist: Mantronix
Title: Simple Simon (You Gotta Rock Hard)
Year: 1988
Label: 10 Records (UK)
Media Source: Recorded straight from 12-inch record to enhanced digital.

Simple Simon – “Simple Simon” (You Gotta Rock Hard) (mp3)


Mantronix- “Simple Simon” (You Dubba Regard)…

Artist: Mantornix
Title: Simple Simon (You Dubba Regard)
Year: 1988
Label: 10 Records (UK)
Media Source: Recorded straight from 12-inch record to enhanced digital.

Mantronix – “Simple Simon” (You Dubba Regard) (mp3)


My first studio with nice gear which I've bought from Syco Systems, London. Kendall Wrightson was my personal salesman. See his videos below.

Kendall Wrightson at Syco Systems, demonstrating the Linn-9000…

Kendall Wrightson at Syco System, demonstrating the Fairlight…

Roland D-50 synthesizer demonstration of its sounds/presets…

E-mu Emulator-II demonstration of its sounds/presets…

Mantronix - “Simple Simon”…

Roxanne Shante - Bite This 01

The first time I’ve ever heard of Roxanne Shante was in 1985 in 8th-grade at my boarding-school Pickering College in Newmarket, Ontario, Canada. At that time, I was listening to very few rap artists (such as Grandmaster Flash, Melle Mel & The Furious Five; Sugar Hill Gang, to name a few) and had only limited rap records/tapes in my personal music collection, considering that the Rap genre was practically unheard of in Canada where it also was very difficult to find any rap music at any Canadian record shop. Then one day, in early 1985, there was this Bahamian kid (who lived in the dorm-room next to mine) who played me his NYC underground rap mix-tape which he’d brought over from his trip to NYC …… and ….. OH MY GOD ….. the first track ….. blew my mind …..Roxanne Shante’s “Queen Of Rox”  ….. harder-edge ….. drum machine beat/groove, scratches, one-shot stab hits and edgy rap vocals ….. slightly more hardcorish than any other rap I’ve ever heard before. When school was over for the Summer, I went back to England and ordered all of Shante’s 12-inch records from local record shop. Less two weeks later ….. I went to pick up my imported Shante records …..  the guy handed me the stuff with a nice surprise on top: Shante’s spanking-new latest release (UK release, mind you!) Bite This. The single so new …… that even Streetsounds (Electro-7 mix compilation) haven’t picked it up yet!

Here’s what I need you to do:

  1. First, play this youtube video of Roxanne Shante’s “Queen Of Rox
  2. And then play Bite This tracks (Flash player below) and at the same time read her wiki and the next article The Story Behind The Story Behind The Roxanne Shante Story.
  • Roxanne Shante is known for improvising her rap lyrics on the spot …. recorded in one-takes.

Roxanne Shante – “Bite This” (Extended)…

Artist: Roxanne Shante
Title: Bite This (Extended)
Year: 1985
Label: 10 Records
Beat Producer & Shante’s close friend: Marley Marl
Media Source: Recorded straight from 12-inch record to enhanced digital.

Roxanne Shante – “Bite This” (mp3)


Roxanne Shante – “Dub This”…

Artist: Roxanne Shante
Title: Dub This
Year: 1985
Label: 10 Records
Beat Producer & Shante’s close friend: Marley Marl
Media Source: Recorded straight from 12-inch record to enhanced digital.

Roxanne Shante – “Dub This” (mp3)


Roxanne Shante - Bite This 02


YouTube Video: Roxanne Shante – “Queen Of Rox”…

Roxanne Shante 01

Roxanne Shante

Marley Marl 01

Marley Marll -- Shante's beat producer and personal friend.

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