Me. Through the MPC

Written by: Erik Jackson

All the MPC talk over the years has been well earned. Many of us can say that we dreamt about getting an MPC 2000xl, especially if you were into any underground music production in the late 1990s and early 2000’s. I had that dream many nights to awaken the next day to try to find this beat making marvel machine for sale somewhere in Orlando and more importantly....for a reasonable price.

So, down to Mars music to stare at them twice a month and wonder how I could afford such a machine.

But my spirit told me that “price is no object” for this sampler that is going to change my life. All the greats use one. I had to get one. I must admit that it became an obsession. I would be chopping samples on Cool Edit at my neighbors house, while reading the specs of the MPC 2000xl and falling in love with that Tan color and the little blue buttons. I still love that color scheme!

I finally got my hands on an MPC2000 “Classic” in around 2003.

I was so exited.

I also had no idea how to use it.

There was no manual in sight and the internet options were not as expansive as they are today.

So, I had to sit for hour’s and hour’s and figure it out. It wasn’t that bad. I did get frustrated a lot but using a machine like the MPC should be taken as serious as learning a traditional instrument. IMO. Keep in mind that I’m saying this now. 20+ years later. At the time I was pretty frustrated.

But I practiced.

Once I got the basic functions down, I ran into another frustration. “Why can’t I make this sound like DJ Premier?” I thought this was a magic machine??? All this time to make this simple beat? Where’s my Mass Appeal or

I figured out that I need better samples to make my music sound better. No YouTube at that time so, I had to explore the floors of thrift shops and garage sales and overpriced vinyl stores. Digging through the endless crates begins feels like it’s own way of life, and then you find out that it is. You discover whole new forms of music, you begin noticing that a lot of vinyl has the musicians names listed along with the instruments they played.

That means you can search for certain instruments and certain players.

Meanwhile, sorting through the vinyl and searching for samples helped me learn about other forms of music. I began to just enjoy listening to vinyl. I started becoming a fan and slight historian of Jazz. A historian in the sense of knowing the musicians on the albums and who played what instrument. It would even get to the point of searching for certain audio engineers due to their unique sound.

Digging for records can go much deeper, but we can save that for a future post.

So, here I am. Spending a ton of money on dollar bin records, listening to awesome music on vinyl, learning to love new (to me) genres of music and learning to become a really big fan of MUSIC, not just my preferred genre.

This helped me grow as a musician and a person. By studying music, I was introduced to different cultures for their musical value. It was a cool way to look at people and countries through their artistic cultures. By appreciating art, maybe can will help us appreciate people a bit more as well. Well, it cannot hurt right?. It might sound cliche but it was a great discovery for me for sure.

Many other things were going on in my life at this time. Just like anyone else. Even artists focusing on their craft still has to deal with life’s issues. But, the art was there for me to focus on, and that helped.

With all of these things going on in my life, I was learning how to express myself through music. So essentially, I learned how to express myself musically through the MPC.

And that is why the MPC will always be near and dear to my heart.

I will end part one of this here. As not to take too much of your time.