Think of it as a Christmas movie for electronic music nerds.

Alexander Dunn’s documentary 808 finally gets to the rest of us in December, having premiered in 2015 at South by Southwest. The film isn’t so much the story of the drum machine itself as it is its musical transmission. So accordingly, it lines up a star-studded cast of musical celebrities talking about the machine’s musical influence, Fatboy Slim to Afrika Bambaataa to Phil Collins. Arthur Baker, executive producer, was an early champion of the project. Some of those celebs, like Guetta, have elicited groans from some 808 lovers; I’m still curious to see how the picture’s full narrative works.

The distribution here is now the story. Apple have been rumored to be focusing more on content, but we haven’t seen the fruits of that yet. Here, 808 will see an Apple exclusive release.

Apple has a new trailer, too, out on their Beats 1 Radio channel. (Note, by the way, the absence of Apple branding there.)

Here’s what you get, as reported yesterday by Billboard:

November 25: 808: The Music soundtrack, coupling classics with new music. (Tracklisting below)

December 9: Apple Music exclusive on the film. (I’m assuming that it’ll just stream via Apple Music – a first as far as I know for a feature-length music documentary)

December 16: Download or rent on iTunes Movies.

It’s a bit weird Apple stole an exclusive from themselves, but there you are. Maybe it helps that this film is narrated by Zane Lowe, the BBC Radio 1 alum who now hosts Apple’s Beats 1 online streaming station.


1. Afrika Bambaataa & The Soulsonic Force, “Planet Rock”
2. Beastie Boys, “Paul Revere”
3. Public Enemy, “Yo! Bum Rush the Show”
4. Man Parrish, “Hip Hop Be Bop (Don’t Stop)”
5. Planet Patrol, “Play At Your Own Risk”
6. Shannon, “Let The Music Play”
7. Strafe, “Set It Off”
8. T La Rock / Jazzy J, “It’s Yours”
9. 808 State, “Flow Coma”
10. Felix da Housecat, “Kickdrum”
11. Lil Jon & The East Side Boyz, “What U Gon’ Do” (feat. Lil Scrappy)
12. Flux Pavilion, “Vibrate”
13. Jamie xx, “Gosh”
14. Lil Wayne & Charlie Puth, “Nothing But Trouble”

Popcorn, eggnog, viewing party – of course. Then some jamming on Roland gear afterwards, no doubt. See you in December.

New Trailer, Soundtrack Details and Release Date for ‘808’ Drum Machine Documentary: Exclusive [Billboard]

Let’s look again at that lovely poster:


  • Ed

    I think your point about the film’s narrative is key: if it uses the 808 as a means to discuss history, society and culture, that would be great. 90 minutes of celebrity DJs telling us that the 808 sounds cool would be awful. Slightly worried that the trailer focuses quite heavily on the latter.

    It sort of reminds me a bit of Scratch, that turntablism documentary from the early 2000s, which I remember doing quite a good job of balancing the two. Hopefully this does the same.

  • Tekknovator

    Goldie is priceless though, caption this:

  • Marvin’s Gaye Sexual Healing should be in there too. He was using it in the same years as Bambaataa and used a non standard beat for Sexual Healing. Something a drummer never would do.

  • pinta_vodki

    “…stream via Apple Music – a first as far as I know for a feature-length music documentary”

    Nope, Taylor Swift’s The 1989 World Tour Documentary was our Christmas present last year. 😉 Not that it’s very relevant to cdm readers, though.

    • foljs