In 1997, we were dancing like in heaven. Freestyle’s deader than ever? Whatever ! “Webbo-webbo, dale lo que quire”. Party people are in the streets getting down to the funky beats, as party people across the state are jamming to the funky breaks. The music is living as b-boys are spinning, “And The Beat Goes On”. A cha-cha’s feather boa looking good in hot pants & platform heel clogs, lighting up a fat one and puffing up for the gods. They chant “Cafe, cafe, cafe, cafe, cafe, cafe”, (to the old Disco classic) while reaching up into the clouds, my “Arroz Con Pollo” chanting crowd. Bring out da booze, da salt, don’t forget the lemons. Trip-hop and Latin house are the Latin Hip-hop crowd’s for 1997.
This past decade has not been a good one for Freestyle. Basically everyone wants to know where things messed up, and why they aren’t getting better. As time passes we will reflect on the past and recall Freestyle roots. Roots that go way back to the early 80’s Hip-hop movement and even further before 1977’s “Trans-Europe Express” by Kraftwerk. Reason one: To re-teach our roots to those who have forgotten, those who don’t know, and for a new generation now rising. Reason two: To focus on the past, learn from others mistakes as for the obstacles they faced, but mostly to focus and prepare for the future.
By now every real Latin Hip-hop head (purist), should know pre 1988. Today we concentrate on its downfall, so we can focus on Freestyle’s peak. Before the 1985 Latin Hip-hop movement, within the first two years of its conception three forms of Freestyle existed. First, there was the electronic form, which is the form that started it all. ( For example: Jenny Burton, Shannon Green, etc). Second form, known as the traditional form or street form, is produced with drum machines and Afro-Latin percussion’s.This is what Lisa Lisa & The Cult Jam popularized. Last the club form, shared the dance floor with Euro records because of certain sounds done with the same synthesizers. ( For example: Chapter One, Yaz, Magazine 60, etc).
Through the early & mid 80’s, these three forms rose together in perfect harmony pouring from and making noise in the discotheques from New York to Miami. Together these three forms covered everything from the streets to the clubs, in the process creating the first actual Freestyle boom in the early 80’s. This led to the claiming back of the disco crown from the U.S., that was lost to Europeans in the first two years of that decade.
The years of 1985 through 1987, concentrated on the traditional form, which kept the genre and movement as a whole, while keeping it’s previous identity. By 1987 -88, because of Miami’s music scene, all three forms rose and reigned once more. This was known as the second Freestyle boom of the late 80’s. During these years DJ, producer “Pretty” Tony Butler, took care of the Electro-Funk driven street, club form, with records like Debbie Deb’s “Searching”, Trenier’s “I’ll Be All You Ever Need”, & Freestyle’s “Don’t Stop the Rock”. In addition, another record that included this sound was Connie’s “Funky Little Beat”. In the other hand, Debbie Deb’s material goes back to the early & mid 80’s, which transcended to the clubs. Records from Company B’s “Fascinated” to For Real’s “Is It Me The One You Think Of”, spawned the more high energy driven club beat. Other examples are, Chapter One’s “Playing with Love”, and Tiger Moon’s “Something Tells Me”. Like it’s earlier shanonesque club style cousins, they claimed back and used the High-Energy sound practiced by UK groups who were influenced by the American 70’s disco era, to achieve club domination. In the process influencing a Latin tinge on other dance club records. These records defined and scorched the clubs, along with others such as Promise Circle’s “Be Mine Tonight”, Rock Force “I Can’t Hide”, Erotic Exotic “Take Me As I Am”, Secret Society “Find Yourself ” ,New York’s FFWD’s “Baby Don’t Go”. To the passionate vocals and harmonies found in Rio’s “Hold Me”, and the soaring trumpets on “Your The One” by Sandae. Meanwhile, Stevie B, Tolga, and GT among others, would practice the more traditional New York style that was innovated and popularized, with a Miami flavor. While records from P.S.O. “Want To Be Starting Something”, Cynthia Roundtree’s “Got to be Next to You” and Sasha’s “So Good for You” were more street driven, but today still rock the box. In New York and Miami, what many called “THE GOLDEN ERA OF SALSA INFLICTED HIGH ENERGY & HIPHOP DANCE”.
1988 was a very good year, but was also the beginning of the end. While in New York, the artists and producers (who in 1985 were the founders of the LHH movement, that broke down doors & founded this Hispanic music genre, with artist like Safire, Joey Kidd, etc.) stepped down. Once they stepped down and made way for the next inheritors to the movements fulcrum, Freestyles first fall was felt throughout the country. This big boom was heard throughout clubland. Though it did effect the music, the cause was not due to New York’s dance community.
Around this time in Miami, clubs like Casanovas, Club Nu, Rick’s Bar, & Hot Wheels Roller Rink (a teenage hangout) were the hot spots. Here you could find smoke machines, red police lights, cowbells, clave’s, sirens with the sizzle of the night life. When Hispanic youth, predominantly Cuban, roamed in low rider trucks and Monte Carlos, ground shaking the streets of Hialeah all the way to the “bottom” of South Dade, with Miami Bass and Freestyle jams. Wearing tight Edwin jeans(of unnatural colors), beepers, rosaries, St. Lazaro and Santa Barbara medallions. The days of the second Freestyle capital were over. Miami’s Freestyle scene was fading in all it’s forms( the Club and Electro). While the club form diminished, Chicago would rejoice as their House music was already being transplanted in New York’s underground. In the process, it began to dominate the dance floors as the doors were now open.
Radio stations that concentrated to deliver the Bass, Freestyle sound to Miami’s African American and Hispanic population, went off the air (Rhythm 98 and Hot 105). Hot 105, the nation’s first Latin Hip Hop radio station changed it’s format to adult contemporary R &B, targeting Miami’s African American audiences. While Rhythm 98 sold it’s frequency to a Spanish broadcasting company. Both radio stations (Hot 105 & Rhythm 98) staff, DJ’s, personalities & their musical format transcended to its competition, Power 96. Today Power 96 is the station for Miami’s English/Spanish speaking crowd and has been playing “so called” Dance music for some time now. This is the reason why so many still listen, for that rare record or old school jam. During this time many acts and producers in Miami retired, mellowed down, or like Expose replaced members and Anglicized their image to succeed in the industry (a big disrespect for Miami’s crowd). Others like Company B and Los Sucios were already experimenting with House elements and Latin house. These records were supported by Power 96 DJ’s such as Lazaro Mendez, Eddie Mix, Felix Slammin Sama, Chief Raymond Hernandez, etc. Basically DJ’s who owe it to Freestyle and Bass, as they all rose out of Miami’s Cubanaso phase. Note many DJ’s of this position no longer support Freestyle music. Maybe they forgot that if it were not for Freestyle they would never be where they are today. Of course, we will always remember those individuals, and all they have and have not done.
By this time in New York, a thin dark skin girl ,with jet black hair, neck long, together with a thin energetic guy, caught the nations attention. Cindy Torres and John Ortiz were now on top of the Freestyle fulcrum, as Cynthia and Johnny O. They basically put their label, Mic-Mac Records on the map. Mic-Mac Records besides changing it’s logo design, became a major independent label. In fact, the label held many producers and artist that released material under the Mic-Mac name. Many like Charlie “Baby” Rosario, Charlie “Rock” Jimenez, and Nelson “FFWD” Cruz basically made Elvin Molina’s and Mickey Garcia’s Mic-Mac Records what it was. But as time passed by, the Mic-Mac sound became played out. Despite the many good songs released by Mic-Mac, the records began to all sound the same. In time, the evolution of the Latin percussion and Hip-Hop elements were no longer present. As for the artists, one word names became a fad. It was either used as a tactic to be accepted by the mainstream audience or to fade out Spanish last names. Many Hispanics noticed this. This also happened at a time when Freestyle seemed to be losing it’s club & street root. Others complained it became un-danceable. In addition, Freestyle became dependent on radio & the industry, and forgot about its door crowd (Hispanics), who supported the music from day one.
By the late 80’s and early 90’s for some reason, Mic-Mac records was the label to dominate the radio stations across the country. Many suggested that Mic-Mac had a good relationship with a major New York radio station. Nevertheless, radio made the mistake along with other media sources to focus on one label at a time. As radio played out Mic-Mac, it also started to focus on its smaller affiliates. Tony Garcia’s High Power Records would receive its fifteen minutes of fame. This is when Lil Susane Casale (Suzy) made her entrance. High Power used the planet rock beat driven records, as its trade mark sound. Though some good records came from all this (“Take Me In Your Arms”), so did spooky ones that made you run and scream. Luckily for those who were into the underground scene, and believed Freestyle was turning to shit, a new hope arose form the underground as House and Hip-Hop re-flourished.
Every producer has his moment. This moment belonged to Carlos “After Dark” Barrios, who is the man behind the New School movement as he and others brought back the Hiphop elements,(beats and loops) and the Afro-Caribbean rhythm back to the music, for the first time since the days of Lisa Lisa. Even people like well respected boriqua Hiphop producer Frankie Cutlass, were producing and remixing records for Cynthia “Love Me Tonight”, Cover Girls “Still Miss You”, and up & comer Luis Demon’s “Should Have Never Let You Go”, who like in Trilogy’s “Love Me Forever” and Seduction’s “Your My One and Only” took Freestyle back to it’s roots, back to the streets, back to Latin Hiphop. These New School records & their updated sounds rose out of the underground. In addition, these elements gave new life & influence found in New Jack Swing, House,Hiphouse, Hiphop, and Techno records. Record labels like Fever & Cutting would come back to play, as they were predominately the ones who flourished this sound from Brenda K’s “So In Love” to the more saxophone driven New Jack Swing records.
Some of these sounds were shared with some Mic-Mac artists. Unfortunately, radio continued to focus on Mic-Mac and High Power and not really in other labels who needed to be heard. At this time new labels outside the New York Hispanic fraternity began taking a hold of the underground scene, as they too also started using influences from the New School movement. After that they started to rise after giving opportunities to independent producers and artist who did not really have resources to come out. So the new labels distributed many material from other production companies, which developed as a good economical strategy for the record labels name. Once they started releasing compilations, just as Mic-Mac and High Power did, they seldom gave credit to the producers, artist and writers of that material on the back side of the compilation cover. These and many other companies released very good records, but also very bad ones as well. Unlike Lisette Melendez or Corina who boasted their Hispanic heritage proudly, new artist arose using the “one name” tactic that Mic-Mac popularized. In the process many non-Hispanics tried to pass as Hispanic, in order to get their material played. While some of their labels plans, were to milk Freestyle as much as they could.
Many other factors began to build up. No matter how dark or how light Freestyle artists were in this multi- racial melting pot, including the non Hispanics, by the end of the 80’s and beginning of the 90’s major media sources were looking to invest in the next big thing for their markets. Despite Freestyles achievements with the New School movement, its Latin identity was not convenient for these media sources such as BET & MTV. BET, had a major influence on radio by targeting the African Americans, and opted towards New School Hiphop & R&B. And MTV had a huge influence on radio by targeting the Caucasian audience and opted towards Alternative Rock, both had a major influence on national & local levels of radio. Therefore, did not support Freestyle, unless the artist tried to pass as a African American or Caucasian. In the process fading their roots and practicing other styles of music. Many who were signed to major labels found out sooner or later that those major’s really did not want to target the Freestyle market. The whole movement itself was a threat to so many people. This became a major reason why many industry people down played it. But any ways, we don’t tell them how to make, choose and market their rock bullshit. Why should they tell Freestyle people how to make and market their material, if they not only they don’t care, but never wanted to recognize its fan base. Saying that the sound was not happening was bullshit. C & C used Trilogy’s beats for “Going To Make You Sweat”, using Freedom Williams and Zelma Davis on vocals and more importantly on the cover. Both holding the same sound, but only one really got embraced by black & pop radio. Unfortunately it was not the one with Angel de Leon, Joey Kid and Duran Ramos.
Besides this point, retail chains did not know how to market the music. Did it go under black music, white music, Spanish music? Usually they would stereotype the music by the color of the artist’s skin tone and categorized it from anything to R & B, Pop Rock, but not Freestyle. The industry did not consider it to be a legitimate category or even music . As a matter of fact until the later years, now filed under the Dance department, but only in compilation form. Either way, this made it difficult for many to find Freestyle albums. In time it became a hassle and many gave up, and opted for bootlegs found on the streets, or vinyl only stores. Unlike the 80’s when many stores carried 12″ and 7″ records, Freestyle music was easier to find. By the late 80’s and early 90’s many stores and chains switched to compact discs, but material by most indies were not released on CD. Some stores that opted to cater to DJ’s & record pools, though that they at least would give hope. But most record pools and DJ’s, did not really promote a lot of indies.
When Freestyles top artists were dropped in 1992 & 1993 from their labels, and radio went back to the underground, the Latin Hiphop crowd and DJ’s had already begun to ditch the scene. This was not because radio said Freestyle was out, but because of the geographical changes within the underground community.
From the day Freestyle began, its success was based on many events that took place in the scene. Overall the support of the second generation, (Hispanic youth and DJs in the U.S.) that the genre as a whole came to represent, and as for the radio and clubs that were also operated by them, along with the labels, everybody was in it together.
During and after the death of Freestyle, the previously mentioned Non-Hispanic labels began popping up in numbers. While more artist along with the other non Hispanic ones, already building followings from new crowds, passed as Hispanics and got their records supported. Many people were not fooled by them, and saw what was really going on. While others ranging from veteran artist, to the basic street crowds, still felt that these labels who now all affiliated themselves, were still going to drain every last drop from the market. Others began to form a puzzle only to realize that new individuals have come to change things, and implant another definition of Freestyle with enough Latin to go with it. The thought may have seemed absurd,but after examining certain fall outs it made sense.
In 1993 despite all the innovations with the New School sound, most of the records released leaned back to the Mic-Mac sound or the Planet Rock driven records, that continued to sound played out. This change that was going on in the underground scene was hot and appealing to the remainder of Freestyle crowd. Besides not knowing whom to support as many companies released cheap sounding shit that resulted in the whole community being stereotyped, many in the crowd as for the DJs felt deceived by what was going on as others felt abandoned and neglected by the originators of the movement. For they did not say or try to do anything about it and just looked away. This is how major respect was lost for so many Freestyle pioneers, for not fighting for the sound and movement they originated..
Many of these new labels picked up fallen more recognizable Freestyle artists. While some new artists did not do justice by remaking covers of already known songs, thinking that they & their label will receive the same love and respect the old school had achieved. This only fueled the Freestyle bashing, as many felt what was becoming of the scene no longer represented what the movement was about. In addition, besides cheap and tired records flooding the market, the new labels, artists and producers did not have roots to the devils nest. The Heartthrob, Studio 54 or Miami’s Club Nu, 1235 and Rick’s Bar were Freestyles golden age and were not considered by many to be the rightful inheritor’s of Freestyle’s fulcrum, even though for a short time it did. By this time in order to save the Latin Hiphop movements dignity and put the Freestyle name out of its misery, Freestyle was claimed dead by the ones who loved it the most.
At this period it looked to many that this was it. There was nothing else to expect out of the scene. To others the music no longer held any meaning nor could it please a crowd. While in House music many could once again dance to forget about lives problems, struggles, and release tension (at time when the House movement opened up it’s arms to the world). And like in the New School Hiphop movement, where many younger crowds could relate and feel represented by what the lyrics said ( due to the fact that by the late 80’s & 90’s it was harder times to grow up in). Especially for the inner city youth, who now every other two have at least 7 loved ones lost or who fell victims of street violence. Today kids use razors to fix quarrels at school.
As the walls of the Freestyle musical kingdom came crumbling down, a small migration began to grow. It started with Safires “Taste the Bass”, Lisa Lisa’s “Let the Beat Hit Em”, and Indias “The Lover Who Rocks You”, “Right From The Start”, and “I Can’t Get No Sleep” (who on side A could be a Freestyle track, side B could be a slammin house track, also Lil Lou and Jellybean already transcended to house) and became a foundation that would be used as the new Latin Hiphop, House or Free-house music. These records would be used to bridge the Freestyle crowd into the 90’s decade of House music.
This was no surprise to many, as through the New School Freestyle movement many clubs and crowds were bumping to the New School Freestyle, as well as the Free-house/Hip-house records. As some earlier records such as Cynthia’s “Endless Night” or / & More’s “Materialistic Girl” held House bridges, some House records derived from the Freestyle sound (included here are many versions of Freestyle records). 2 in a room, India, Rare Arts, Danny “Holiday” Vargas and Victor Vargas(a.k.a. the Vargas brothers or one “d” as “the Wepa Man”0, 2 Without Hats, along with records from Richi Rich’s “Salsa House” or Black Riot’s “A Day In The Life” (who held strong Latin bridges, a smart move to capture attention). This would basically define the Latin Hiphop House movement that not only arose out of the Freestyle inhabited streets and clubs, but from the same labels who brought on the Freestyle movement. What was left of the Freestyle was not much as the scene was now being evacuated. Basically only the originators of the movement would stay behind (mostly produces and singers, and a very small crowd that lived through the 83-88 period) and face what was about to become of the scene. As for the Freestyle DJ’s left, they took with them freestyles pride, culture, history, and also its strength, but many made the promise of one day returning when the time is right. The flags that flown for over 11 years since 1983 where taken down, and all evacuated the burning “castle” as the kingdom that once was , went to hell. The days of Hispanic owned and operated clubs, record labels, radio stations and shows, and even TV shows like Second Generation or The Latin Connection (the Latino version of Soul Train, instead of R&B they played Freestyle) were over.
Freestyle’s crowd and DJ’s still united, raised the flags of Latin Hiphop and marched into the next decade. Their LHHH scene would be shared and combined with other styles of Latin house, such as Merenhouse, Flamenco House, and other Latin influenced House music whose elements went back to the music of the Latin American and Caribbean people. These elements were installed in other house records by Hispanic House producers (who like many Hiphop producers(old school) were also Hispanic, Afro-Latin). They were there since the beginning of their scenes. Although many Latin House records hold the Afro-Caribbean rhythm, it is mostly the Latin Hiphouse records that are making noise as they are more recognized and unlike the other forms of Latin house, the people making them have roots that go way back to “planet rock” days.
The drums have been pounding for over 500 years now, and would continue, as Latin House was the place where Freestyle’s people could connect to their roots as well as represent. This is something the now defunct scene could not give them. Since then Latin House has become a haven for many. As the years passed, many key figures of the Freestyle movement would come back. Many knowing of the geographical changes that took place, did not go directly to what became the Freestyle scene, but to where Freestyle’s real crowd could be found. Trilogy with “Boriqua Anthem”, Brenda K on El Maruichi’s ” Cuba” ( a classic Latin disco remake), 2 In A Room’s ” Carnival”, Sandae on the mighty dub cats “Magic Carpet Ride”, and House producer David Morales would release “In The Ghetto” which like many other records would be played next to scorchers like “Pirates of The Caribbean”, “Rumba” and Indias “Love and Happiness” (Yemaya y Ochun). These records put the scene on the map.
Though most would not dare go more into House and remain in Latin House, India once a Freestyle duchess, is now queen of Latin House, and queen diva of the 90’s. (Note: While many diss people like Lil Lou, because they left the Freestyle scene, they have to keep in mind that Loue Vega and as for others, after doing one kind of thing for so many years, needs to change before going insane. How would you like to cook and eat the same thing every day for 10 years? Even though Loue does House, it is known by many who know him or keep up with him, that he like many other House producers and DJ’s still remember the days of the Heartthrob, and Studio 54. In addition, to the more variety that was found in the records of that time. many forgot where they arose from.) There are a lot of House producers and DJ’s today who are not as excited by what the House scene holds, as records and elements are beginning to sound the same. Some are interested in experimenting with electronic Hiphop and Dance (sounds like Freestyle to me).
As the years flew by, so did the population transcending from the Freestyle scene to the Latin House scene. (Keep in mind the average person listens to 5 types of music, the Freestyle head at least listens to 9.) It is possible to also produce one type of record and still keep your roots to your mother scene. This coming at a time when many outside and inside the U.S. were attracted to the sound. This has been seen as exotic and interesting, especially in Europe, where like in France, there is a large & growing, second generation of Cuban and Colombian population. Within this Salsa and Latin Jazz scene, the French are now rising. These scenes within the Hispanic community throughout Europe, are the same scenes supporting Latin House and other Hispanic-American Genres.
St. Johns “Agua”, as for Norty Cotto-(former Latin Freestyle producer, engineer, who still stands up for the genre)- Sancocho “Tumba La Casa”, “Rumba Te Tumba” would be played along such classics as Rare Arts ” Boriqua Posse” or the now existing Rochelle’s “Ne-Ne”, while resting from her traditional styled “Praying For An Angel”. Tito Puente Jr. (son of the world Latin Jazz Legend Tito Puente), also transcended with his cover of Santana’s classic “Olle Como Va”. Hay Nayobe “La Cubana” also dropping bombs, “We Can Dance”,( we can fly, we can party tonight) ,at the same time releasing the more traditional “What Am I To Do” to stuff the mouths of those who bitch that “She’s selling Out” (the only ones selling out is the ones slapping bullshit together and molding it into a vinyl and telling the world that is what Freestyle is all about). Shut up and sit down, let the real people represent now. It is good to see Hispanics, well Freestyle’s people uniting even if it is under a more different sound than what we are usually used to. It is also good to see that the majority of people making and spinning today’s House music (Danny Tennaglia, Loue Vega, David Morales, Roger S, Eric Morillo, Lord G, Murk Boys etc.,) are also from Latin American and Caribbean background. We will see if there efforts in the scenes, and in the eyes of the mainstream would be overlooked, as Hispanic producers were the influence in the 70’s disco era.
Now focusing on the traditional Freestyle scene. A scene where 70% of the records being made are done by fans of a particular Freestyle artist. In the process imitating that artist and sound, winding up looking like a wannabe. While others are just following the flow as non talented individuals also mimic and rip off other peoples styles (exactly), instead of creating their own. Others slapping bullshit together and releasing it with hope that one or two of the 25 records released would get somewhere, or do it to please there distributor. Some never counted on support of the second generation, and tried to market that bullshit to the mainstream. Others marketed it outside the U.S. to crowds who don’t know the whole truth about Freestyle And others looked at the industries tactics for answers, using them but not getting no where because they where not concentrating to bring back Freestyle’s strength, it’s crowd. If it’s not obvious the only ones supporting 90’s freestyle is the family and friends of those who make it. Besides this new Freestyle polluting the scene, it is bringing negative stereotypes. It is still obvious that greed took hold of certain individuals (who deserved to be dropped on there ass when Freestyle fell back in 92), as if it was not bad enough losing the respect of the crowds and DJ’s. Now the unity between the “good” labels across the country was falling. Because of this is why the people and new generation of DJ’s lost interest to start their careers with Freestyle. Instead they focus all their energy into House records, and luckily underground electronic music which would contribute back in the future. This is the basic reason why all other Dance genres are re-flourishing themselves except for Freestyle (traditional).
Many practitioners of traditional Freestyle from Miami to New York and the rest of the country (professionals with backgrounds), have to be very open minded and see that they cannot start off where they left off. It’s beginnings for everyone. Unfortunately many companies and so called Freestyle supporters have isolated themselves from the changes that occurred in the world and are now lost. Others have had to leave the scene because they are aging and have to think about their future and their families. Therefore are forced to close their companies and try finding other ways to survive and make ends meat. Others are blinded by negativity they faced and lost hope, but still hold on to their companies because it connects them to good times, and find happiness in that. Nonetheless times have changed, now there is a new generation rising with more knowledge of the positions they hold, but are not popping up of the “Freestyle Scene”. A new “Freestyle Scene” is popping out of them.
Though for the past six years the Freestyle scene has not been prosperous (thank god, certain people don’t deserve to be) at least not like back in 88, through these past years we were blessed with a few talented individuals, and because of them the scene has had its moments. While Freestyle forgot about its Hispanic identity and roots to Old School Hiphop, it was looked by others as a scene now dominated, operated and driven by non Hispanics and sell out Latinos.When records had no soul (Latin Soul) and the scene had no face, she came without warning, when many saw no hopes. Her lyrics “DO YOU REMEMBER HOW IT ALL BEGAN? WE DIDN’T KNOW HOW FAR, OR WHERE WE WERE GOING, BUT SOME HOW WE NEVER STOP KNOWING, THAT LOVE WILL KEEP US TOGETHER THIS TIME” caught the attention of many. This records first lyrics could hold some kind of double meaning in the time it flourished in. This record stood out and was not part of the other predictable, planet rock infested flood. This princess brought a fresh face back to the scene, in the process bringing back the Hispanic identity that the scene lacked. In addition, bringing rhythm back to the music, using different beats mixed with a little Old School flavor. She was also the first in a long time to use her Spanish last name with pride. This is what earned her love and respect, not from the Freestyle scene and market, but from the people. Though as New York & Miami street crowds tried to claim her nationality, she came from neither ends of the east coast, but hailed form the overlooked west coast. She put that scene on the map and brought attention to so many other companies and groups such as Spanish Fly.
Though some doubted her, simply because she was not from the east, this princess held on to her crown and marched into Miami, New York and the rest of the east coast (a hard crowd to please), to make her proper introduction to the people of the first two Freestyle capitals. This Filipina single handed put everyone who doubted her, a foot in their mouths, as she and her dancers tore up the stage and dropped the lyrics in the crowds own ancestral tongue, Spanish. True respect was earned as Jocelyn Enriques was the first to drop Spanish vocals on a Freestyle record since the day India dropped them in the 80’s with “Bailando En El Fuego”. the Spanish side to “Dancing On The Fire”. Jocelyn was the proof that the seeds were planted. She along with Her writers and producers Glenn Guitierrez, Mario Augustin Jr., and the rest of her label (Classified) were definitely not alone. They would be backed up by AZTLAN, the whole California region and its inhabitants, Mexican American, Filipino American, and other Hispanics. Basically the whole melting pot of the “West Coast Groove” movement that took place in that region during the early through mid 90’s.
Jocelyn’s now classic “Ive Been Thinking About You” and “Make This Last Forever”, besides giving life to the Freestyle scene, it also put the west coast on the map. Especially when it came to represent the Philippine community there. Definitely a people who are overlooked in this country. As for others in the east, they had the chance to represent. ( Puerto Ricans, Cubans, Colombians, Dominicans, etc., Hispanic-Italians, Italian and Italian American as for other non-Hispanics, and their contributions to Freestyle) This definitely earned her a place in the History Book.
Back to New York, basically anything that happened in New York would one way or another effect the rest of the nation on how they perceived Freestyle. The truth was New York’s Freestyle scene was no longer recognized by many, as they had better things to do than sit there and see who is an imitator and who is an innovator. So many new artist who had talent at that time as for today have been stereotyped, and have faced hard times. The crown that was once held by Judy Torres (before the days of Mic-Mac) and through Safire, was given to Cynthia, then shared by Laura Enea and Ilene Flores, now laid on the head of the new Mic-Mac queen. The last true Freestyle queen to represent the fulcrum of the movement before the dark age (93-96) took over, and the new fleet of labels would dominate the scene.
Nyasia would release one of Mic-Mac’s last full length albums. Within this album laid “Take Me Away”, a record done with up and comer George Anthony. Nyasia would later be signed to another label (X-Clusive) and release ” I Feel The Way That You Do”. George Anthony would take place of Johnny O as the single male figure of Mic-Mac, as Johnny Ortiz would later be signed to Exit records. Here he was given total freedom to pick his own material. This led him to release an album, although many say that some of the material “SUCKED”, it did spin off the underground shaker ” I Know That You Love Me”. As for George Anthony, he would have been successful if Freestyle wouldn’t of sucked (the times) and would have been the next Mic-Mac king. His strong vocals can still be heard on his “I Love You”, a record Johnny O later came to popularize. But still can be heard at Freestyle joints and pirate radio (some commercial also) stations.
Though Nyasia at that time held the female crown in the early 90’s, it was the peoples king who would have said the last word. As TKA disbanded, Kayel would re-introduce himself as K7, which basically meant Kayel and 7 years of stepping up to the mic (85-92). While getting away from stereotypes and from what people expected him to continue to do, he and the Swing Kids (L.O.S., Prophet, Non-Stop, and Tre-Deuce, who was also into Freestyle type stuff) continued to work with Joey Gardner and Tommy Boy Records. While they triumphed in the mainstream Hiphop market, they also released two major records. These Freestyle records “Body Rock” and “Make You Feel Good” besides kicking ass, they kept the ball rolling a little while longer. Yes indeed, Kayel besides showing the ladies who’s the man, showed everybody who’s the king. (Though many still down play that, saying that Stevie B is the real king. Stevie B was the king of Miami Freestyle over a decade ago, and became Freestyles commercial king. He gave freestyle the bubble-gum image that hurts many today). Although both are talented, Stevie B is all about the entertainment. He receives fame from his fans, Kayel on the other hand is all about representation. He represented the whole movement as a whole. He receives love and respect from his people. You don’t compare the two, just like in the Hiphop (rap) world, you don’t compare KRS (knowledge reign supreme) One, to MC Hammer).
As the years passed, Freestyle was basically dead. New York had no real radio support for Freestyle, and Miami once in a blue moon played a song. For the rest of the nation depending where one was located, that’s what they had to put up with, “NO SUPPORT”. It was usually local scenes doing there own thing. Over all there was no national unity for Freestyle across the country. Right in the middle of this dry period, Susane Casale ” Suzy” came back. This time not so little. She dominated the airwaves of the few stations and was the good of the Freestyle scene of that time. “Promise Me” was under the direction of Victor Franco and on a new label (not High Power, who introduced her to the world). Suzy soared high with this one and was claimed queen of Freestyle by the New Alliance. She was their queen. Though Suzy and Victor Franco are seen by many as part of New York’s elite fraternity, they also are seen as the link between the originators of the movement and the labels who now inhabit the scene. While some of them had a little movement of there own.
One of the center people of New York’s elite fraternity, as for a pioneer of the Latin Hiphop movement in the 80’s was definitely not amused by events taking place. Joey Gardner would be the one to have the last word. Around the mid decade, Joey would open his own label, Timber. He then picked up Cindy Torres and George Lamond. He then released ” How I Love Him” by Cynthia and “Always You” by George Lamond. Through the hands of Joey, the crown that was held by TKA, then continued on Kayel, was split in two for a new king and queen. At around the same time (a little earlier), Carlos “Afterdark” Barrios would make noise with his Afterdark Records, and would pump up records from Ron Esco, Nina Bena’s “Sweat heart” and the now legendary to the purist “Promise Me Your Heart” Joie Mea. Timber and Afterdark records represented the fulcrum of a movement that once was. Joining the ranks of Fever and Cutting records, these labels now represented the TRUE SCHOOL ELITE. A fraternity of masters-producers/ DJ, remixers, and engineers, such names in New York would go back to Arthur Baker, John Robie, John Jellybean Benitez, Sal Abatiello, Loue Vega, Omar Santana, Aldo & Amado Marin, The Latin Rascals(Tony Moran & Albert”One rascal” Cabrera), Tommy Uzzo, Mike Lorello, Chep Nunez, Andy Panda, Mark Legit, Chris Barbossa, Herb “The Pump” Powers, Rob “Razor” Kellman etc./ and the artists and music they dedicated their lives to. This was a good point, but the records were not enough. There would be to much time between professional quality releases. Although purist recognized, many did not because they did not know about them. But, due to the fact that they were stereotyped and overlooked by radio, and they did not hold the traditional, but more sophisticated sound, it was not enough for the clubs nor the streets.
The year 1995 would be the 10th year anniversary of the 85 LHHM. Though Timber and Afterdark had the floor, Fever & Cutting Records would come back into the scene as many Old School people would be making come backs in the future. Many like Corina and Angel Sabatar (the leading original Cover Girl, who came back as A. Clivelles) along with others at many different levels, took on a crusade across the country to spread the word of Freestyle and attempt to save the genre. In the process, some made their presence felt in clubs like La Mirage 2 in NY, San Jose, Calif.’s Club Oasis, to Santa Ana’s Club Orchids, to Miami’s Cafe Casa Blanca, Club Tahj, Cameo, and Fort Lauderdale’s Roxy,among other sold out joints from coast to coast.
In 1996, Judy “I’m chunky but funky” Torres, would come back not so much with chunk, but with mad funk. She made a bang with her house release of “No Reason To Cry” which recaptured the attention to many lost to House, before dropping the Neo Freestyle scorcher “Holding On”. 1996/97 Coro would come back with ” Do Unto Me”. New comer Issac dropped “In My Heart”, Lissette Melendez with “Time Passes By”, Giggles with “Hugs n Kisses”, Face ” Stay Away” (she’s the one who did ” Happy Days”). As for the Legends of Style “We Are The Ones” written by Chris Barbossa (a perfect record for that time) lets see who else is claiming Freestyle? By the way on the vocals it was Cynthia, T. Moran, G. Lamond, Brenda K, Coro, Joey Kid. Also Safire would come back with a re-release of her own material (with Kenny Diaz along side), “You Said You Loved me” written by LHH pioneer Mark Anthony, who although never went solo in Freestyle, through connections with Ralph Mercado and David Maldonado, had his albums produced by Salsa producer Sergio George. Mark soared high in the Salsa world, as years passed, through some what the same connections India also followed that path and became world famous. Recently Safire, Brenda K, Nayobe, Luis Damon, and George Lamond also have or are making plans to step a foot in that direction, while some still have the other in Freestyle. ( I wonder if they will use their popularity, for Freestyles advantage? Also if I’m correct, didn’t Willie Crespo also? If it is the same Willie Crespo who put out “Where Have You Gone” on Strictly Hype then I’m correct, if not well who gives).
In the Freestyle scene many good things have happened such as up and coming DJ/producers like JJ Flores, Wheel of Steel Master as Tim “Spinning” Schommer hailing from Chi-Town (birth place of House). In NY we saw Willie “Valentin” Rivera come up with his label Artistic, distributed by Mic-Mac. Charlie Rock Jimenez with his label Charlie Rock Entertainment. Like the labels that used to be, they also mainly focused on Hispanic artist. Though Tony Garcia and High Power get all the punches by many, for so many reasons, he and his label have good points. Releasing an album instead of adding to the flood of compilations which held more quantity than quality. We were given Lil Johanna, who introduced her self with “Take Me In Your Arms Again” as she also re-did ” Take Me In Your Arms” and its sequel “Real Love For Me”, in Spanish, an area Lil Suzy couldn’t deliver, or chose not too. We also saw a rise of so many labels, among them 44 West. Out of this label rose Susane Santiago who delivered “Open Up Your Heart” and “You Showed Me” along with an album. Along with many of her label mates, some have dropped Spanish freestyle, regaining respect from “da Hood”.
Miami has not been so quiet also. Many old heads are snooping around the underground Miami Scene cuz they have so much up their sleeves. Some already released some material. Ray Guel and his Groovy Tunes Label released material in both English and Spanish. Miami local legends Teaz II Pleaz (who originated the singing over Miami Bass, Freestyle beats, before R&B and the future Freestyle chic’s would do so) have not had their hands clean. New material is expected from them and their label Ten-Lion Records as the label and artist replenish in their roots, as for one of the last original figures left from Miami’s Cubanaso Freestyle and Bass phase that rocked back in the 80’s. Nice & Wild- Luis Perez, Charlie Andrew, and original lead vocalist John Minis, returned with ” Infatuation” written by 20 year old Joey Aguilar- on Right Touch Productions. Debbie Deb would return with ” There’s A Party Going On” and Pretty Tony Butler would hook up once again with Trenier and release a cover of Debbie’s “When I Hear Music”. But neither could compete against Samantha’s “Craving Your Love” on Ying Yang Records. This record was the shit of the year. No Mercy- Marty Cintron, and brothers Ariel & Gabriel Hernandez were discovered by a German producer and signed to Arista, although never considered what a legitimate Freestyle group should be. “Where Did You Go” launched itself internationally using a Spanish Flamenco styled Euro version as for a Latin Triphop or Neo Freestyle version in both English & Spanish. This is proving to many that Freestyle, or any kind of music, Hispanic’s are indeed talented.
In New York KTU- came back as a commercial Dance radio station for the big A. Playing old Freestyle records, but unlike so many other stations in the country, they only play old ones and don’t crank today’s few good quality in between. Before this ever took place, Norty Cotto and Johnny Famolari have been keeping Freestyle rolling for the people on Spanish radio station La Mega 97.9. As for pirate radio across the states, the rising San Francisco Bay area, Texas, Chi-Town,& Miami , God Bless them also.
Though from record sales it seems that Freestyle is done for, one has to see certain events taking place outside of the studio. New generations of Hispanics are rediscovering the roots as well as those down with them. Both the Old School & New School are in love with an idea of a movement. Many aspects of the underground are taking form. But despite all the achievements and preparations many are now doing, not the Freestyle scene nor the Latin House scene would expect the next level. Many can argue about evolution, but no one can fight it and win.
To understand the evolution of Freestyle or the next level called Triphop, is a more complex situation and will be covered on a up & coming month. To understand it we must go out of the Freestyle scene once more. But we must remember that for the past six years what many called Freestyle, was really one form, the traditional form, the form that was the fulcrum of the movement, as for what became of it.
Freestyle is not a physical form, but a spiritual one. A form of love, unity, and pride that gave life to a movement. Without that records have no soul, therefore considered dead. The soul of Freestyle expressed the pain, suffering, and experience of Hispanics growing up in the U.S., something that can’t be marketed. Freestyle is dead in the physical form of vinyl, especially when focusing on the traditional style. But Freestyle is alive, it lives within the people. As it lives within these people, they keep Freestyle alive by keeping the stories being told, and passing down the seeds of the movement to the younger generation of Hispanics and those who walk with them. Teaching them about all of the Old School records, and of the people who made them as for the people who lived through those times whether they are here with us or not. Even though at times it seems so far away to some, and as it never happened in the eyes of others. Freestyle lives within us, as we evolve, it evolves. Especially when some of us dove into other scenes. As it did with so many who wanted to be on the cutting edge of Dance music, in the process headed underground and planted the seeds there. Though Freestyle is a spiritual form, it also turns into a physical one, once it possesses the ones chosen to carry it, the ones who live it, what is the culture as a whole. The peoples culture, Hispanic culture in the urban underground and its position and contribution that started with and ranged from graffiti, B-Boys, DJ & car culture. These cultures are the elements to this thing we call Hiphop and branched out in many forms beyond that.
As in today’s Freestyle scene, many still practice things that brought it down. And others rely on the Latin House scene. Others dove into the deepest ocean of the Underground Dance, as the House sound was in a way in many levels commercial. In the 90’s House, like mid 90’s Hi-Energy, it soupe up there sound from the new underground genres. Within this underground, the old elements began to resurface and mix in with new ones. Many DJ’s with Old School roots recognized them and put them to good use, while to others it was new and started experimenting them. By mid decade, Electro Funk would rise out of the underground and be supported by those who recognized it as well as they would support what followed. Basically Rave and Hiphop cultures would collide, and once again B-boys would start flip-flopping and body rocking, but in the underground House joints and Raves. While Hiphop and Rave cultures collided, Latin Hiphop would be caught in the middle. Out of this would rise a renaissance, a rebirth, a new beginning, as the ghost of the shanonesque period (83-84) would through a new generation of African Americans, White and Italian Americans, and (the new faces of the movement, Nadine Renee, Jocelyn Enriquez, Omar Santana, Angelina, George Acosta etc. leading the movement) the Hispanics, claim back old Electro-Funk and Freestyle elements as for new ones in the name of Latin Hiphop. Many in the traditional scene who have had since 1993 to show their talent and prove themselves, down play the Neo Freestyle movement by excluding it, saying its somewhat related but not real. Usually because jealousy takes a hold and at the same time if they have not already, one of their affiliates have already released a ” Angelina” wannabe, as for others they aren’t ready for “Electronic Noise”.
In reality, Triphop, Neo Freestyle has replaced the electronic form back to the people as for Latin House has replaced a club form. Still the traditional form is still dead, therefore not all three are in perfect harmony. But the traditional form will rise out of the other two forms, from the people. The Latin Freestyle crowds are supporting Triphop, Neo Freestyle and Latin House. The two scenes that represent their tribal backgrounds that go back hundreds of years as for their electronic future that will go as long as it will take them , this is today’s Latin Hiphop. Though many would disagree and argue that its not Freestyle, who are they to say that? Its not what you hear or what you mimic, its a feeling an instinct. In life, things have different and weird ways of repairing themselves. Evolution takes time and patience. When things reincarnate, it is only recognized by those it is part of. The same way it is recognized, it also recognizes back and depends on those people.
Today, as Latin House records begin to slop down and sound the same, many have already began turning them into a more melodic form with lyrics (remember 70% of Latin House and forces supporting it have Freestyle backgrounds) and Freestyles vocals. As time passes many will see that there is not much difference between today’s Ilegales “Sueno Con Tigo” or our classics like Amareto’s “Clave Rock” or Sweet Sensations “Take It While It’s Hot” along with Bad boy Orchestra’s ” Do You Want To Dance” (arroz con pollo). At the same time the Triphop form is also in need to become more melodic and vocal at some levels, without trying to sound like a “Planet Soul” wannabe (unfortunately some of the same forces that fucked it up for every one releasing predictable planet rock infested records, are now back at work adding Triphop elements to their “Planet Rock” like productions calling that Triphop, which makes it harder for the professionals to prove themselves to the mainstream as for the underground world.) Luckily, major underground sources recognize the real records. Though the Triphop form brought back the Electro form, it dominates all forms of Freestyle, as it takes us back to the beginning. A new beginning, but like the old beginning where people kept the shit real. A beginning where people once again start sampling new beats, rhythms, and harmonies (as Black and Hispanic youth did in the 80’s) while records like now classic Up Front’s “Infatuation” are played between today’s “Do You Miss Me” by Joceyln Enriquez and Cotton Club’s ” Hear The Drummer” to Win’x “Higher State of Conscience”.
So many things have happened recently, especially the last two years, so many people and companies not mentioned either because: 1. I have later plans with them on other future articles. 2 I’m running out of time here. & 3. Don’t deserve to be seen, and others have been hogging other media sources, its time to focus on professionals and the more talented independent labels especially those labels operated by the younger up and new comers or the ones who have roots to the beginning. If your not mentioned, don’t worry, I did not forget you. I guess this was a quick overview of the last six years and Freestyle’s highest points. While other media sources focus on things occurring, we here ( I ) also will in the coming months ( if I don’t know about it, alot of people won’t either). But most importantly we will all ( you and I ) be focusing on events that have been and are taking place, things that have to be pointed out and accomplished. Some may be controversial and extreme, but have to be said cuz no one else has the balls to say and find solutions to them, for the benefit of the whole community. The main point is to save the fulcrum if not start a new one. In addition, to find solutions to problems, listen to and educate, as this here is not only targeted to industry individuals, but to today and tomorrows producers, vocalists, writers, DJ’s, and above all Freestyles people, the Hispanic 8-40 something crowd and those who are down with them & Freestyle, who inhabit major cities across the U.S. especially Miami, New York, L.A. because if it wasn’t for them, there would be no Freestyle. There would be no yesterday to look back on and there would be no tomorrow to look up at. Freestyle is you. Many of the things here are expressions of many through one person. Personally, to defend Freestyle and it’s people. I would stand up as for many behind me, and unleash hell. As I speak, many companies of Freestyle are closing, as many are also opening, with artist and producers (predominantly Hispanic) who only have one vision, a new major Latin Hiphop movement. For them I say as for others who have been around ” alot has to be fixed “, you can’t jump in the water if you don’t know how to swim or if you have a broken leg. You got to learn or heal. Learn how to move around this industry and drown it before it drowns you. The first steps have started already, Spanish Harlem, Brooklyn, and the Bronx (NY), Hialeah, South Beach, and the bottoms (South Dade) (Miami), S.F. Bay area, Orange County, L.A./ Chi-toen, Texas- the world is yours take it (one way or the other). Latin Freestyle – this is our story, an American story, but a Hispanic one as well. So many things have to flourish out of this, we need to show the world that here in the U.S. we contribute with our own culture, art, and that we have our own thing going, especially the music.
Though many back in the 80’s did not consider a Freestyle artist, their material, or their sound to be real music, in this decade it is found that there is every thing from R&B singers (Aliyah to Allure) remaking Lisa Lisa’s material. While others claim to be first to sing over hiphop beats and drum machines. On the other hand, it is also found that followers of electronic music are sweating and sampling the Freestyle Electro-Funk sound. Though some recognize and give respect to this scene as they use the sound to enhance their production and mixing techniques. Others do not because they don’t know any better. And while others who are all up in the sound, were the same ones who down played it back in the days. It makes one stop and think, now ten years later when many have forgotten. Now, in the hands of African Americans or in the hands of Dj’s and electronic music producers across the U.S. and Europe (predominantly Caucasian), now that Latin identity is not as strong on that sound as it was and still should be. When mostly Latino/Latina vocals are dubbed and the Hispanic presence and influence is mellowed down, mainstream and alternative radio embrace that sound and embrace a new generation who tries to pass it as their own, without giving credit to the Old School. Now that the sound and it’s elements are being practiced by their own people (non-Hispanics) it was considered music.But when it was done & practiced by Hispanics, it was considered what many consider Hispanics in the U.S., nothing. Once again, everything the Old School Latin Hiphop movement’s community worked for, is once again over looked.
No matter how many ways one has looking at this, it has negative points, but has it’s positve points as well. As the sound gets a little exploited, there are new crowds of all colors and ethnics, that are now being exposed to the Freestyle sound or Freestyle’s past achievements. People’s minds are opening up and sooner or later the truth always prevails and thats when the light will shine on the little spot many did not see. It is presently happening slowly, especially in the underground community of electronic music genres and their scenes, such as the funky breaks, trance, ambient, American drum and bass, who refer to the Freestyle genre as one of many genres catagorized under the Triphop label. It is here also where the Hispanic presense, inovations, and contributions are slowly being recognized by a hand full of respected DJ’s and is forcing others to recognize. In the same way, the music industry is also being forced to recognize the growing Latin population in the U.S.. As for the market it has brought due to the fact that our population has tripled, if not quadrupled since 1985. Many have already attempted to make money off of the Latin market. We have been hearing everybody from Toni Braxton, Boyz 2 Men, Madonna, Spice Girls. Sean “Puffy” Combs, to Wylde Cleff Jean or Celine Deon, try to bust out in Spanish or try to target the Latin crowds. Atleast we know that people are slowly recognizing, which brings me to the next point.
Everybody and everthing has its time and place. It is a fact by those who study Dance music and trends of the decade they flourished, that every ten years one way or ther other, the history of a music genre repeats itself. In the 90’s we have seen an overlap of events that took place in both the 80’s decade as well as the 70’s decade. From the early part through the end of this decade we have seen an increase of the mainstream, radio and music industry’s interest and acceptance in Dance music (disco) once again, as it did back in the 70’s disco era (usually from the mid to the decades end). Back in 92, while radio tightened the noose on Freestyle and kicked the stool from underneath. Once again, in a new form of hiphop (rap), dominated and created a new movement. Like in 82 it became a key year for the hiphop movement of that time. Towards and through the middle of the decade we have also seen a quick boom of the High-Energy and Euro Dance (many sampling Freestyle melodies in the process, as others today sweat Spanish Flamenco elements, but some did give back) as for a small and growing Neo Freestyle boom. Since 95, rising from the underground Dance scenes (not the so called todays Freestyle scene) and not recognized to those who did not know of its elements and foundations, resulting in it to be in a position not quite known for them, just like the events that took place in the early through mid 80’s. All the signs are in place, as for both decades past, including this one, that whether it is seen or not, Hispanics dominate most of the scenes and their contributions are limitless. Which in some cases creates trends in the mainstream that makes everyone sweat Hispanic people. Unfortanately to them its just a trend, something seasonal. To us its are lives and we need to take advantage of the smallest opportinity, to basically ” Invade”.
Today many people are looking at us,and are finally opening up in so many diferrent ways. While others mostly affiliated to extremest government groups target us with Anti Latino propositions and English only laws, saying it is mostly to target “Illegal Aliens” when in fact the truth is that it is to target all of us, one way or the other. How are they going to tell who is illegal or not, by skin tone? Either way, this effects Freestyle, as so many artist need bilangualism not only to succeed in the U.S. but around the world. Europeans atleast speak three tongues. (Ay, imagine being fined because you said “Hay papi no pare”, on a record). There is so much to fight for. Whether it is musical elements, recognition or the freedom to express one’s self through music. Big things are made up of little things, if you don’t fight for them they get taken away. Many of us already learned the one really does not know what they have till they lose it. This is basically what happened in Freestyle. People forgot or cared not to practice or fight for those little things that formed the main foundations. Thats why so many are where they are today. We need to take advantage, especially now that there is a larger population of youth, especially Latinos that are struggling and searching to represent their identity, as we did back in the 80’s. The only reason Freestyle is strong today is because unlike the 70’s or 90’s, in the 80’s the music was supported by mostly teenagers and very young crowds. Today the last remainding people who actually were there are still into Freestyle, especially the youngest, which are now in their early 20’s and late teens. And not all of them are interested in keeping Freestyle alive, if no one else cares. Others have other obligations and the remainder will not necesarely succeed, which leaves us with a very small number of supporters.
Many have been saying Freestyle will some day rise, today is some day, all the signs are in place. In one scene you have the forces (labels, producers, promoters, clubs and radio), it does not take much for an idiot to figure what to do. Some already put that together and thats why many like Angelina are where they are today. But there is more to be done. I know people dfel disalusioned by the past years, so many people have yelled out “Freestyles back” more times than the boy who cried wolf. Just because a certain figure in the community made an unsuccessfull come back or was hype brought up by certain labels to attract attention, when in fact it was all talk, no action nor satisfaction. Others say it will never happen, (maybe not to them, but it is slowly happening, this year alone we had more Freestyle people topping charts across the country, as for achieving pop radio success. (Atleast more than the previous five). I would like them to call up Sal Abbatiello at Fever records, or Aldo Marin at Cutting and say that to their face, and most probably they would answer that they heard that one pre 1985. Life is about taking chances, no one in the whole Freestyle community at this time has nothing to lose. Like it or not, everybody is at the bottom. Together we all have so much to gain. If we don’t take the chance together as a community, watching each others backs, invading opportunities. We will never see how far we can get. One man alone cannot fight a war, but an army can. This is exactly what it is, it’s like a war. We are fighting for Freestyle’s survival. If things continue the way they have for the past six years, in two years there will be no Freestyle because all the hope and opportunities will run out.
Today what we do is added to the history book that goes back to 1982, and even as far back into the 70’s. We are really at a begining. A begining where many can re-start and forget about querels and past experiences with other members of the community. As for those with slump reputations, they also have a new chance to prove themselves, especially to the new order that’s rising. Everything we do now will effect the future. I’m not the first to say it, but everything that will exist tommorow will be based on this thing we consider “Triphop”. The same way everything we know today as Latin Freestyle, depended on what resulted out of the shanonesque era and the early 80’s hiphop movement. This once again can prevail through evolution, keeping an open mind, and the skills to experiment and take things higher to unknown frontiers. In the process, using free form inovations as well as keeping past inovations alive, above all, being an individual contributing to a genre as for one’s self. This is up to you, up to me, up to anyone who is willing to start a foundation for a major latin hiphop movement. Twice or tripple the size of the first (1985) that will launch Freestyle and it’s people into the comming millenium.
We have sat down and been quiet for too long now. We aren’t going for that shit no more! For Hispanics in the 80’s, Freestyle was our introduction to a country that has a black and white visual spectrum, we were that little grey spot in the middle, and we told them who we were. Now in the late 90’s, we come together once more, Old Skchol and future School. That little grey spot isn’t so little anymore, and now were going to show them what we can do.
Besides reviewing a music genre, as we go along with this new movement we can unite this country before this country separates us. Blacks in the 60’s fought for Civil Rights, not only for them but for all of us. Latinos of the millenium now it’s our turn. We got to fight for unity without losing our roots. It has to start in our community (Freestyle), then to rest of the Dance community, then to the rest of the world. People ot there have so much in common and they don’t even know about it. They can learn so much from our cultures, our art, our music. We need to fight for unity. We need to fight for love. If not for us, for this country and the worlds children, black, white, hispanic, asian, middle eastern etc. Though the doors have been opened for us, many have closed and others never opened to begin with. Now it’s time to kick them down. Not only for us (Freestyle & Hispanics), but for everybody.
Going back to Freestyle. So many people are where they are today because they started with Freestyle. It seems that they forgot about that first step and all the people who gave them mad love & support, when there was no one else. To us remainding, Freestyle the movement, the people, the sound, gave us so much in so many different ways. It represented us. Now it’s time for us to give back and represent it.
There is a major difference between entertainment and representation and its been the line between the two that have really been the cause for keeping this scene dead now for some time. As people no longer know who is in this thing for the cause and who are in it only to exploit and milk anything that comes out of it. (unlike European music genre, such as Euro Dance, their purpose is to make people dance, in America, the music is one with the people who make it, whether it be House, Hiphop or Freestyle). The music involves culture, their culture, their experience in this country that only 25 years ago was still segregated, and in many ways still does not recognize it’s people. Maybe it has something to do with our African and Pre-Colombian backgrounds, and how we overcame change, adapted and implanted our ancestry in modern times, even without knowing we did.
Down with the dark age (92-95) which brought ignorance and arogance within a community. Props to this reinasanse that we are experiencing and will continue to do so, as the old flags in the hands of the new order start to rise from the underground with a true people that have roots that go way back, when everything was black.
As this second column closes, it will open new ways of thinking, as for open peoples minds and hopefully something will start from all this. Definetly in the comming months, issues that need to be focused on will be focused on closely. Those who deserve recognition will receive it, and those who don’t contribute to Freestyle will also be recognized. If one company fucks up, they fuck it up for everybody. We would like to know who, when, why and where. To either help them out, or exclude them form the community and make sure that people won’t hurt their business by affiliating themselves to them. (I prefer the helping them out part better.) This will include reviews on vinyl , albums, singles, cd’s, compilations, radio shows and stations, clubs and an evaluation of other Freestyle websites, columnist and their columns. In additon, how to refer to them and anything else. Basically anything that has to do with the Latin Hiphop culture will be brought to you. (As we get set up.) If by the end of reading this you still have no clue what is going on, you probably shouldn’t be here in the first place. And for those in shock and object, there are more than one million people in this world, go blow someone. There is too much at stake for people to be taking chances. This here is for purist, hardcore Freestyle junkies. I will not tolerate bullshit. The people behind this page have mad connections in the new underground and future Freestyle community. Not the so called ones that have existed for the past couple of years. NO PAPI, take it to Bernard Rosenberg at D.M.A. and see what he saids. He will probably try to be nice about it, but see Bernies column gets edited out. Much of what he writes is not included in the monthly (going to start collecting) commercial dance magazine. Over here it is a different story. Play hard and you will get far………. My advice “don’t stick your hand in the salsa pot if you don’t like it hot” (and while its hot, were going to take it).
There are hundreds of people hooking up to this column per day. If you know whats good for you, you’ll send your material, anything you want people to know A.S.A.P., first come. first serve. If you want the hundreds of people who are reading this, as others bitch at me for taking to long, to visit your page and get the “links” going, also get in contact with us.
OK, OK one more thing. My thank U’s.
Thank you to: Jorge A. Ojeda, you have been working on the whole neigborhood’s material (Barby Perez, “white Boy” Jay etc.) now its time to work on your own. It’s not so much your talent that will get you far, it will get you far, but your love and dedication to Freestyle will get you farther. To Vic Ten, Thank you for not looking at me like I was some kind of looney. You along with so many “Old School” (both in Miami and New York) people have so much to tell me, especially what I don’t already know. I want to know for I could pass it down to the next, before anything happens to anyone of you (veterano) types. Ricks Bar, Club Nu, shit the best is yet to come. Thank you along with Jorge, for giving me this opportunity to reach hundreds of people and do what I gotta do.
Special Thanks: To Sugey Maises for listening to my complaints about Freestyle, listening to me and supporting the cause. God Bless you, Luciano, & Jr., don’t worry sooner or later you can say you know someone or have connections like your sister Tiachi (I hope I didn’t soell her name wrong) up in New York. The only difference is that she was a dancer back in the days and you never were, but O well.
To Gordy, Ay when are we gonna get together and work on your material, put out that Album? I know how you get with them wheels of steel. Yo papi, don’t hurt nobody. Good luck at KGB’s. Also thanks to W.B.O.M. “Da Bomb” 90.1 FM at the bottom as well as for Dance 99.5 FM, and XTC 101.9 FM (Dj Spin, Nino, Robert W, Geo, Boogie man, and everyone else), for keeping the rare Freestyle records present, as for playing the real, real old stuff. You all teach as you spin and keep Freestyle and disco alive.
To Arturo ” The Rythm Rocker” Gomez, for recognition, advice and support. One day everybody outside of Miami will recognize your struggles and efforts, as for your humility and everything you did for the hiphop community at the bottom, and how you kept the key to the fulcrum of the hiphop musical kingdom here in Miami. Something so many of us from other scenes and other walks of life witnessed and would support the day it is needed. No matter what color, shape or form, you are an inspiration, but color, I learned to look beyond that and share my love in many different forms. Don’t stop teaching! I see you marching high, under the red the black and the green, while a ocean behind you chants. “Whats the name of this nation……” you know the rest.
I too, in one hand carry a torch to light up the way for my people, and in the other a sword to fight off evil, in all it’s forms.
To the true Latin Hiphop Heads/ Freestyle’s people, “my people”, Our time has come. Personally, don’t look at me for the answers and truths you have been searching for. Look within yourself, there you will find the truth and your destiny.
As for the rest, OF ME, I CARE NOT WHAT YOU THINK OF,
CUZ I’M HERE TO REPRESENT THE TRUE LOVE.
If you make freestyle records, (real freestyle records- not that bull- sh*t that’s out there) or even if you just listen to freestyle, you need to link in here, go out there and represent, it’s our movement, our culture, our identity. It’s us AGAINST THE WORLD.
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