Monday, March 31, 2008
#3 Freestyle Music
Want to get the party started?!? Well if there are any Latinos in the house Mr. DJ better have some Freestyle in those crates. No, not the off-the-head style of Rap made famous by hip-hop stars like Supernatural and Mos Def, we’re talking about FREESTYLE MUSIC!
During the late ‘80s an emerging sound began to develop out of NYC and Miami and after it impacted, Latinos were never the same. Marked by its pounding 808s, synthetic keys and melodic vocals; often telling tales of tragic love, Freestyle music became the Latino answer to hip-hop. While genres like Salsa and Merengue became synonymous with an older generation due to their roots in Puerto Rico and the Dominican Republic, Freestyle became something that American-born Latinos could call their own. Stars like TKA (“Maria”), George Lamond (“No Matter What”) and Lisa Lisa and the Cult Jam (“Head to Toe”) took the once underground sound to the mainstream proving that the genre can have life in the clubs and on the pop charts.
Freestyle music was derived from the electro-Euro pop of acts like Kraftwerk. Usually clocking in at well over 100 beats per minute, the genre took dance music to the next level and made New York clubs like the Funhouse, the Roxy and Broadway 96 world famous. Shannon’s “Let the Music Play” was one of Freestyle’s earliest and biggest hits, soon to be followed by tracks like Freeez’s “I.O.U.” and Safire’s “Let Me Be the One.” Eventually acts like Brenda K. Starr (“I Still Believe”), The Cover Girls (“Show Me”) and Stevie B. (“Spring Love”) began to define the genre and take it to new heights. With all of its commercial appeal, Freestyle crossed over into the world of pop music and eventually began to die in the face of early 90s acts like Paula Abdul and Milli Vanilli.
Still to this day Freestyle remains popular amongst 80s babies and has even seen a mini-resurrection of sorts amongst artists like Pitbull, Nina Sky and Lumidee. Almost 25 years after its inception it is clear that Latinos can not withstand the infectious rhythms of this unique brand of electro-pop music.