Rapper/producer RZA and Power 105.1’s The Breakfast Club host Angela Yee met in an Apple Store in Brooklyn on Thursday night for “The Art of Beatmaking” session with musical software company ROLI, which unveiled the new Lego-esque music maker, the ROLI Blocks. The Wu-Tang Clan founding member delved into his creative approach as contemporary artist Shantell Martin participated in the demonstration by doing a live drawing on a projected screen behind him.
The ROLI Blocks consist of three wireless parts that can be used by a touch of your finger. Each sound made is different than the next depending on the amount of pressure that’s applied. “You can drum it, you can pat it like a percussion, you could actually move it like a guitar string,” RZA said during the presentation. “Not only is it fun, it’s also very advanced.”
ROLI says the Blocks are the most versatile music-making system ever made and can be used by anyone — from beginners to music professionals. “When you touch it, you will automatically get something out of it. I think it’s one of the best entry-level devices because you don’t have to know music to make music. Music is something that you feel,” RZA added. “Whether you know how to make music or not, or play music traditionally, when you start playing with this, you will find your voice.”
The Blocks, which can be used via Bluetooth device, can be immediately connected to a laptop in order to create new tunes. “If this was out when I was out, I would have written orchestras like how Mozart was writing orchestras. I would have had a symphony by the time I was 41. And for $200? I spent more on floppy disks,” RZA joked.
RZA was joined by music duo PARISI to demonstrate how easy it is to host a jam session with the Lightpad Block (retailing for $179.95 at Apple stores exclusively) that serves as the base of the studio and the additional Live and Loop Blocks, which are $79.95 each. The trio effortlessly made several beats while openly inviting any MCs in the crowd to freestyle.
The night ended with RZA opening the floor to the audience to test out the products themselves. Attendees of all ages were touching the multi-colored illuminating Blocks. RZA also quipped, “This is what I call a block party.”