Bowie’s Blackstar inspired by hip hop

Longtime David Bowie producer Tony Visconti says the singer wanted to “avoid rock’n’roll” on his latest album Blackstar.

And he reports the pair listened to a lot of hip hop artist Kendrick Lamar before the recording process got under way in an effort to explore other avenues for the record’s direction.

Visconti tells Rolling Stone: “We wound up with nothing like that, but we loved the fact Kendrick was so open-minded and he didn’t do a straight-up hip hop record. He threw everything on there, and that’s exactly what we wanted to do. The goal, in many, many ways, was to avoid rock’n’roll.”

Last week, Bowie released the sprawling title track from the album which originally clocked in at over 11 minutes. But Visconti reports they cut it back to 9 minutes 57 seconds as iTunes won’t post singles over 10 minutes in length.

The producer adds: “It’s total bullshit but David was adamant it be the single, and he didn’t want both an album version and a single version, since that gets confusing.”

Some of the musicians confirmed on Blackstar include Saxophonist Donny McCaslin who played on Bowie’s 2014 track Sue. Drummer Mark Guiliana and LCD Soundsystem founder James Murphy also feature.

Bowie hasn’t played live since 2006, and Visconti reports he’d be amazed if he were to perform any time soon.

“I don’t think he’s ever going to play live again,” he says. “If he does, it will be a total surprise.”

Bowie will release his 25th studio album on January 8 via ISO Records.

Scott Munro
Louder e-commerce editor

Scott has spent 35 years in newspapers, magazines and online as an editor, production editor, sub-editor, designer, writer and reviewer. Scott joined our news desk in the summer of 2014 before moving to the e-commerce team in 2020. Scott keeps Louder’s buyer’s guides up to date, writes about the best deals for music fans, keeps on top of the latest tech releases and reviews headphones, speakers, earplugs and more. Over the last 10 years, Scott has written more than 11,000 articles across Louder, Classic Rock, Metal Hammer and Prog. He's previously written for publications including IGN, the Sunday Mirror, Daily Record and The Herald newspapers, covering everything from daily news and weekly features, to tech reviews, video games, travel and whisky. Scott's favourite bands are Fields Of The Nephilim, The Cure, New Model Army, All About Eve, The Mission, Cocteau Twins, Drab Majesty, Marillion and Rush.