Skip to main content

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

Scott looks after Louder’s online buyer’s guides and also scouts out the best deals for music fans from every corner of the internet. He's spent more than 25 years in newspapers and magazines and in 2014 joined our news desk, where he wrote extensively about rock, metal, prog and more. Scott has previous written for the Daily Record, Sunday Mirror, The Herald and IGN.