Zapp (also known as the Zapp Band or Zapp and Roger) is a funk band that emerged from Hamilton, Ohio, in 1977. Particularly influential in the electro sub-genre of funk. Zapp served as partial inspiration toward the creation of the G-funk sound of hip-hop popular on the West Coast of the United States in the early to mid 1990s, with many of their songs sampled by numerous hip-hop artists.
The original line-up consisted of four brothers—Roger Troutman, Larry Troutman, Lester Troutman and Terry Troutman—and non-Troutman family members Bobby Glover and Gregory Jackson. The group received attention in the early 1980s for implementing heavy use of the talk-box, which became one of their most well known characteristics. Zapp worked closely with members George Clinton and Bootsy Collins of the band Parliament-Funkadelic during its early stages, their support being a factor in the group gaining a record deal with Warner Bros. Records in 1979.
Zapp released its eponymous debut album in 1980, having a P-funk reminiscent sound as a result of Clinton’s and Collin’s input on the production. Zapp achieved most of its mainstream recognition from the single « More Bounce to the Ounce » from the same album, now widely regarded as a classic example of early 1980s electronic funk.
Zapp continued to produce several more albums thereafter, releasing Zapp II in 1982. The album’s musical style veered drastically away from their first release, despite this, the album sold well, and was certified gold by late 1982.
Zapp spawned several more albums in close succession within the 1980s, retaining the heavily electronic style that Zapp II had adopted. Zapp III was released in 1983 . While still gaining a gold certification, it peaked at 39 on the Billboard 200 and nine on the R&B chart.
The growing and increasingly dominant West Coast hip-hop scene of the early to mid 1990s brought Zapp and Roger back into the spotlight for a brief amount of time as many hip-hop acts began favoring Zapp’s material as a source for sampling in their own music. By 1994, Zapp’s compilation album All the Greatest Hits was certified platinum, making it one of their highest selling albums to date. Troutman gained recognition for providing talk-box backing vocals for both the original and remixed version of Tupac Shakur’s 1995-96 comeback single « California Love »; the alternate version of the music video features Troutman playing the keyboard and talk-box during a party. Roger’s involvement in « California Love » awarded him a Grammy nomination for « Best Rap Performance by a Duo or Group » in 1997.
A few years later, Zapp resurfaced for a short period after the establishment of its own independent label, Zapp Town Records, managed by the Troutman family. The label released its only album, Zapp VI: Back By Popular Demand, in 2003. Zapp returned to performing only in live concert, touring across the U.S. at various venues.