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article on freestyle

80s Forum: article on freestyle
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  1. #1
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    Post article on freestyle

    Freestyle Let the Music Play


    Most styles and epochs are given their name AFTER their demise, or at least AFTER they've been part of the mainstream. In the case of FREESTYLE, this is certainly true. This musical style is also known as "Latin Freestyle" or "Latin Hip Hop". However, if you're now thinking "Cypress Hill" or "ad hoc rapping", you're mistaken, as a matter of fact...


    Of course, Freestyle's roots aren't that distant from rap. People like Afrika Bambaataa, producers John Robie and Arthur Baker started to mix rap with funky yet electronical sounds. Before that, hip hop was basically rather traditional musically, based on funk and disco tracks like "Good Times" by Chic it was only the power of the rapping like all African American music of West African descent that made most rap tracks different from their disco forebears. The music of early rap records was performed LIVE in the studio and then mixed with the rapping, whereas LIVE hip hop was two turntables and a microphone with DJs such as Kool DJ Herc, Bambaataa and Grandmaster Flash. Herc was a Jamaican, and in the beginning he brought the Jamaican tradition of dee jaying (toasting) and mixing to the Bronx, NY. In the end, Jamaican and African American traditions merged into the new music called hip hop.


    "Planet Rock"

    Herc first tried to make people listen to the reggae tracks from Jamaica but it didn't work. Then he started using funk and soul records, focussing on the instrumental breaks. Check out the "Ultimate breaks and Beats" series
    It includes tracks from "Mary Mary" to "Apache", cuts still used today by hip hop DJs and sampled many times.
    Of course, this music was organic rather than electronic. But hip hop DJs discovered weird sounds from Europe such as Kraftwerk's "Numbers" and "Trans Europa Express". Back then, this music was called techno...
    With Baker and Robie, Afrika Bambaataa mixed Kraftwerk with funkier sounds inspired by Captain Sky's Super Sperm and taking melodic elements from a rock version of Ennio Morricone's "The Mexican". The result: "Planet Rock" (1982) by Afrika Bambaataa and the Soul Sonic Force, a track that changed hip hop music.


    Electro Funk


    This new style of hip hop came to be called "Electro Funk". A group of young singers named Planet Patrol recorded a sung version of Planet Rock, "Play at your own risk", also produced by Baker and Robie. Electro Funk ruled hip hop for the next few years, both in NY and LA (Egyptian Lover, Wreckin Cru), and in Miami, a new kind of hip hop called "Miami Bass" emerged. Also House music was heavily influenced by Electro Funk. John Robie and Baker realized what new potentials were inherent to the new genre and went on mixing the sound wth R&B Vocals: "I.O.U." by Freeze was an instant underground club hit.

    Latin Hip Hop

    Many people list "Let the music play" (1983) by Shannon as the first freestyle track. The song was produced by Chris Barbosa, a Latino from NY. Barbosa changed and refined the electro funk sound, adding Latin American rhythms and a totally syncopated drum sound. That was definitely a reason why the style came to be very popular among Latin@s as well as Italian Americans. Hence, the names "Latin Hip Hop" or "Latin Freestyle". Now, the more neutral term "Freestyle" is generally preferred.


    Freestyle the name

    Why freestyle is actually called freestyle is subject to speculation. It is a genre with rather clear features catchy melodies, electronic beats, often with some Latin sabores. Maybe the term freestyle is due to the DJs spinning the wheels of steel, mixing. Others claim the singers were "freestyling" to the music. That would then be the same motivation as with "freestyle rap".

    Miami Freestyle

    Not only electro was very popular in Miami, also freestyle was embraced with the southern Latin capital of the US. Pretty Tony aka Tony Butler actually first made electro, then bass and finally freestyle. He had a one man group called Freestyle and was the producer of freestyle singer Trinere.


    Freestyle crossovers into mainstream

    Although the producers were often Latinos, most singers were African American. Lisa Lisa was the first Latina singer, her band, Lisa Lisa and Cult Jam, was produced by Full Force who also made UTFO's music and even once worked together with James Brown. The music of Lisa Lisa and Cult Jam was less electro, more pop, and that was also probably the reason why groups such as Lisa Lisa and Cult Jam, TKA, Sweet Sensation and especially the Cover Girls were able to crossover into the pop market at the end of the 1980s. But soon thereafter, freestyle was no longer pop music: MC Hammer, New Kids on the Block and Milli Vanilli also had catchy tunes, certainly much more cheaper (and obvious) than the (also) often kitschy, but never tasteless sound of freestyle


    Back to the underground

    At the end of the 90s, freestyle was underground again. Aficionad@s still bought freestyle records, and people like Lil Suzy, George Lamond, Johnny O and Angelique came to be stars even if only recognized by the fans of this music. But who knows, after the electro revival with Westbam and Music Instructor, the future may bring a commercial freestyle revival.


    Gender

    As in other types of dance music, freestyle artists are often women who are singing tunes written by and produced by men. Of course there are exceptions: Stevie B produces his own records, George Lamond and Johnny O are also male singers. Of course, this kind of division of labour can also be found in other genres. And its roots are much older in Shakespeare's days, women had no voice, and in a way, this is still the case today.
    Of course, it would be necessary to investigate whether women actually have no part in the writing and production of for example freestyle, but it often looks like that.

    http://www.latinfreestyle.com
    http://www.freestylemusic.com
    http://www.clubfreestyle.com

    http://www.spartanic.ch/musiclist.html


    ------------------
    HASTA LA VICTORIA SIEMPRE

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Apr 2000
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    Royal Palm Beach, Florida
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    Thanks for that great post, Wathiik! And welcome to 80sxchange.com! That pretty much sums up how Freestyle got started and how it sought of ended. These days, it's coming back in a strong way! Thanks to WKTU in New York (and Party 105 as well) we get to hear our favorite Freestyle music - old and new. And thanks to websites like clubfreestyle.com (which I am a lot of the reason it's taken off so well) mainstream is not far away...

    What do you think? Should I rename this forum to "Latin Freestyle File?"

    ------------------
    The loneliness just fades away
    thoughts of you just memories
    no cryin now for what we're missin
    time won't forget what you meant to me

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Mar 2001
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    Post

    well. I think the term Latin Freestyle isn't that accurate coz not all freestyle traxx are influenced by Latin music.
    einiwei
    thanks for the feedback Sal (= Salvatore?)

    ------------------
    HASTA LA VICTORIA SIEMPRE

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Apr 2000
    Location
    Royal Palm Beach, Florida
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    49
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    Yup - Salvatore is my full name.. Hey - would you have any advice on what I should rename this forum to? I think "Freestyle" may be to general. Any opinions or ideas would be appreciated.

    ------------------
    The loneliness just fades away
    thoughts of you just memories
    no cryin now for what we're missin
    time won't forget what you meant to me

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