Thursday, June 5, 2014

Zapp's "More Bounce to the Ounce" Helped Set Off A Dynamic New Sound

In 1980, Ohio funk band Zapp kicked off their self-titled debut album with the ridiculously funky cut “More Bounce to the Ounce.” The bumpin,’ roof-rattling track reassured funk fans that the FUNK was still very much alive and kicking at the dawn of the ‘80s.  It’s so funky it could wake the dead and out-stank a football stadium full of nasty outhouses. The groove is anchored by a monstrous synth bass line that kicks you square in the gut, and the heavy-duty funk beat is accentuated by thunderous granny-slapping handclaps. And the track boasts some splendid guitar work, with dirty chicken-scratch licks bouncing off smooth Wes Montgomery runs. The track is over nine minutes of exhilarating uncut funk.

The song was written by the late singer/songwriter/producer and multi-instrumentalist Roger Troutman.  He played guitars, bass and synthesizer on the track and performed all the vocals through his signature talkbox. The Zapp frontman and leader co-produced the track with legendary funk master Bootsy Collins, who played guitar on the record.  Roger’s brothers, Lester (drums) and Larry (percussion), also played on the track.

The seminal electro-funk hit was not only blowing up the airwaves; it also had folks stampeding the dance floor at parties and clubs back in the day.  It was a single from Zapp’s eponymous debut album, which was released in 1980.  The track rose all the way to #2 on the Billboard Soul Singles chart. The album also performed well on the charts, peaking at #2 on the Billboard Hot R&B album chart and #20 on the Billboard 200 album chart. The LP was eventually certified gold (500,000 copies sold). Roger and Bootsy co-produced the entire album, which is a strong collection of funk and R&B tracks.

Since its release 34 years ago, “More Bounce to the Ounce” has become an influential funk classic.  The song— and Zapp’s music in general—had a huge influence on the West Coast G-Funk sound that was popular during the early to mid ‘90s.  It is one of the most sampled tracks in hip-hop history and has appeared on 181 tracks, according to  Some of the notable hip-hop artists who have sampled the song include The Notorious B.I.G., Snoop Dogg, Public Enemy, Ice Cube, the Wu-Tang Clan, Digital Underground and Geto Boys.

Zapp was formed in 1978 by Roger and his four brothers, Larry, Lester, Tony and Terry.  The Troutman brothers were born and raised in Hamilton, Ohio. Bootsy’s brother, the late Phelps “Catfish” Collins, caught one of the band’s live performances when they were gigging around Ohio. Catfish was impressed with the young band’s talent and got them in touch Bootsy, who in turn brought them to George Clinton’s attention.  This eventually led to the band getting signed by Warner Bros. Records in 1979.  In addition to the Troutman brothers, keyboardist Gregory Jackson and vocalist Bobby Glover were also members of the band’s original lineup.

Zapp and Roger enjoyed continued success throughout the first half of the ‘80s and had a string of hits—from both the band and Roger’s solo efforts. In the mid-‘90s, the band saw a resurgence in popularity due to their tracks being sampled by countless hip-hop artists. Around this time, rap artists began featuring Roger on their songs. And the funk veteran worked with rap giants Dr. Dre and Tupac Shakur on the epic hip-hop anthem “California Love,” released in 1995.  Roger contributed to the writing of the track and provided the hook through his trademark talkbox.  He even had a cameo in the song’s extravagant video.

Zapp has quite an impressive musical legacy. In addition to its considerable influence on West Coast hip hop, the band was one of the key pioneers of the electro-funk sound that blew up in the ‘80s.

More Bounce To The Ounce at Amazon

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