Afrika Bambaataa (left) in 2004
In 1980, YMO was the first band to utilize the TR-808 programmable drum machine.That same year, YMO member Ryuichi Sakamoto released "Riot in Lagos", which is regarded as an early example of electro music,and is credited for having anticipated the beats and sounds of electro.The song's influence can be seen in the work of later pioneering electro artists such as Afrika Bambaataa and Mantronix.Following the decline of disco music in the late 1970s, various funk artists such as Zapp & Roger began experimenting with talk boxesand the use of heavier, more distinctive beats. Electro eventually emerged as a fusion of different styles, including 1970s funk and disco combined with German and Japanese electropop, in addition to influences from the futurism of Alvin Toffler, martial arts films, and video game music. The genre's immediate forebearers included Kraftwerk, Yellow Magic Orchestra (YMO), and Gary Numan.
In 1982, Bronx based producer Afrika Bambaataa released the seminal track "Planet Rock", which contained elements of Kraftwerk's "Trans-Europe Express" (from the album of the same name) and "Numbers" (from Kraftwerk's 1981 Computer World album),as well as Yellow Magic Orchestra songs such as "Riot in Lagos" (from Sakamoto's 1980 album B-2 Unit)."Planet Rock" is widely regarded as a turning point in the electro genre.
In 1983, Hashim created the influential electro funk tune "Al-Naafiysh (The Soul)" which became Cutting Record's first release in November 1983.At the time Hashim was influenced by Man Parrish's "Hip Hop, Be Bop", Thomas Dolby's "She Blinded Me With Science" and Afrika Bambaataa's "Planet Rock"."Al-Nafyish" was later included in Playgroup's compilation album Kings of Electro (2007), alongside other electro classics such as Sakamoto's "Riot in Lagos". Also in 1983, Herbie Hancock, in collaboration with Grand Mixer D.ST, released the hit single "Rockit".
Bambaataa and groups like Planet Patrol, Jonzun Crew, Mantronix, Newcleus and Juan Atkins' Detroit-based group Cybotron went on to influence the genres of Detroit techno,ghettotech, breakbeat, drum and bass and electroclash. Early producers in the electro genre (notably Arthur Baker,John Robie and Shep Pettibone) featured prominently in the Latin Freestyle (or simply "Freestyle") movement. By the late 1980s, the genre had parted from its initial funk influences. Baker and Pettibone enjoyed robust careers well into the house era, and both eluded the "genre trap" to successfully produce mainstream artists.