Beat Breakdown:
“Love Lockdown”

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In each Beat Breakdown, we dissect the beat of an iconic 808-driven song. Explore the beat online with Splice’s Beatmaker or download a project file with the MIDI drum pattern to play with it in your DAW.

It’s no secret that Kanye West is a fan of the 808 drum machine. He incorporated it into every single track of his 2008 release, 808s & Heartbreak. The lead single off that album, “Love Lockdown,” features the 808 kick as the unchanging, thumping heartbeat of the track. It serves as the sole accompaniment for Kanye’s opening verse, doubling as both a rhythmic and harmonic foundation.

Leveraging a single sound to serve the purpose of both kick drum and bassline helps Kanye achieve the minimalist feel that makes this track shine (and sharply distinguishes its application of the 808 from Gaye’s and Bombaataa’s). The 808 kick contrasts with the tribal drums that enter at the chorus, creating an interesting juxtaposition between electronic and acoustic textures.

Kanye’s “Love Lockdown,” among other tracks off the album such as the massive hit “Heartless,” popularized the use of the 808 kick as a both a rhythmic and melodic element. The album as a whole demonstrated that the 808 drum machine still has a place in modern popular music, and Kanye felt no need to be subtle in delivering that message.


Written by
Harrison Shimazu

Harrison Shimazu is a video game and film composer passionate about communicating narrative through music and sound design.

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