Troutman’s unique, hard funk sound stood out for his pioneering use of a sound-altering vocoder, or talk box. The “This Is Pop” auto-tune episode includes vintage footage of Troutman making his musical magic. A scene shows Troutman talk-singing — with the vocoder wiring in his mouth — all the while playing to the camera.
With Zapp and later as the solo act billed as just Roger, Troutman bolstered Dayton’s already well-known funk legacy with hits such as “More Bounce to the Ounce,” “Computer Love” and, later, 1987′s mainstream chart breakthrough “I Want to Be Your Man,” an electro-pop ballad that peaked at No. 3 on the Billboard pop chart in early 1988. In 1996, rapper Tupac Shakur’s collaboration with Dr. Dre and Troutman, “California Love,” a hip-hop classic, topped the Billboard pop chart.