| June 1983|
| Album version (US 7")
"Rough" (UK 7")|
5:27 (album version)
3:54 (single version)
"Rockit" is a composition recorded by jazz pianist Herbie Hancock and produced by Bill Laswell. Hancock released it as a single from his 1983 album Future Shock. The selection was composed by Hancock, producer Laswell, and synthesizer/drum machine programmer Michael Beinhorn, and was the first instrumental to reach the Hot 100 list on any of Billboard's music charts in years.
Constructed and composed during the recording process at various studios, including RPM, B.C. Studio in Brooklyn NY, Herbie's home studio in LA, Eldorado studio in LA. Mixing engineer Dave Jerden. the composition is the first recognized popular single to feature scratching and other turntablist techniques, performed by GrandMixer D.ST - an influential DJ in the early years of turntablism. Some years later, turntablists such as DJ Qbert and Mix Master Mike cited the composition as 'revelatory' in the documentary film Scratch, inspiring their interest in the instrument.
The single was a major radio hit in the United Kingdom and a popular dance club record in the United States.
The music video, directed by the duo of Kevin Godley and Lol Creme and featuring robot-like movable sculptures (by Jim Whiting) dancing, spinning, and even walking in time to the music in a "virtual house" in London, England, garnered five MTV Video Music Awards in 1984, including Best Concept Video and Best Special Effects. Hancock himself appears, and plays keyboard, only as an image on a television receiver, which is smashed on the pavement outside the front door of the house at the end of the video."Rockit" was sampled in the 2006 Janet Jackson song "So Excited."
"Rockit" is featured in the video games Dance Dance Revolution Universe 2, Amplitude, Grand Theft Auto: Vice City, DJ Hero, NBA Street Homecourt, and Halo: The Master Chief Collection; it is featured more specifically, in regard to this last video game, in its Halo 2 anniversary edition.
"Rockit" was studied for the music and art portion of the 1990-1991 Academic Decathlon competition. The musical focus for that year was Music of the Post-World War II era.
"Rockit" was performed at the 1985 Grammy Awards Ceremony in Los Angeles, California, in the famous synthesizer jam with other contemporaries Howard Jones, Thomas Dolby, and Stevie Wonder.
"Rockit" is featured in the 2007 film Kickin' It Old Skool as the music being played during two breakdance competitions, and a piece that wakes the main character Justin, played by Jamie Kennedy, from his 20-year coma.
"Rockit" appears in the film Zoolander, where it is used to break Derek's hypnotism during the finale catwalk scene.
"Rockit" was used for the radio program "Showboat" on Soccer AM.
"Rockit" was featured when Chris Skelton danced in Episode 5 of Series 3 on the BBC TV show Ashes to Ashes.
"Rockit" was featured on Season 3, episode 4 of 30 Rock during a brief moment when NBC page Kenneth is shown street-dancing for side cash.
"Rockit" was featured on The Simpsons episode Treehouse of Horror XVI. It shows a robot playing it on a synthesizer whilst a pair of robotic legs are dancing in time to the music, parodying the music video.
A similar tune is heard in the sketch episode "The Extras," from The Amazing World of Gumball. A group of senior citizens dance to the tune.