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Zapp & Roger – Slow and Easy (1993)

We’ve owed Roger Troutman some props since the Chartburn post in which half the panel confessed total ignorance of his work. A Cassingle Vault post is sort of a cheap way of making it up to him, but until I can find someone willing to write a Popdose Guide to Zapp & Roger, this will have to do.

Troutman, as if you didn’t know, was the “Roger” in “Zapp & Roger,” the electro-funk collective responsible for smash R&B hits such as “More Bounce to the Ounce,” “Computer Love,” and “Dance Floor.” Aside from handling most of the instruments and a good chunk of the songwriting duties, Roger was responsible for bringing the vocoder and the talkbox into the R&B mainstream — an influence that persists (some would say unfortunately) to this day. For an example of the enduring Troutman effect, just take a look at this Snoop Dogg clip, from his latest Top 10 single:

That, my friends, is a page torn directly from the Roger playbook.

Roger never seemed to mind, though — when the hits started drying up in the late ’80s, he nimbly made the jump to supporting-character status, either by producing other artists (Shirley Murdock’s “As We Lay”), making cameo appearances (Scritti Politti’s “Boom There She Was,” 2Pac’s “California Love”), or simply by virtue of giving people something to sample (too many to count). He actually did a better job of navigating the choppy post-peak career waters of R&B better than pretty much any artist I can think of; sure, he was touring casinos in the ’90s, but he was also earning what had to be very healthy residuals. All of which made his death in 1999 even more of a stupid, senseless tragedy, but let’s keep things positive, huh?

“Slow and Easy” (download) is from Zapp & Roger’s 1993 best-of compilation, Zapp & Roger: All the Greatest Hits, which sparked something of a mini-revival for the band (although it apparently wasn’t enough of one to get this single onto the charts). It isn’t the most likable Zapp single — when listening to the B-side, “A Chunk of Sugar” (download), you can really hear all the warmth that the ’90s leeched out of Troutman’s music — but you can’t go too far wrong with a song that promises some slow ‘n’ easy lovin’, can you?