Wednesday, August 23, 2017

Nuyorican Soul – It’s Alright, I Feel It!

Classics: Nuyorican Soul – It’s Alright, I Feel It! (MAW 12″ Mix) (Talkin’ Loud)

Superlatives are still missing to tell you how I felt by the time I received the highly sought after Nuyorican Soul‘s 6 × Vinyl 12″ boxset from Talkin’ Loud. From the object itself to its content, sounding like an introspective flashback into the influences of its conceptors. Not to mention its line-up featuring an impressive array of luminaries. From Roy Ayers to George Benson. But also Tito Puente, Vincent Montana, Jr. and Jazzy Jeff to name but a few.

“Let nothing block your way coz’ this is your day. Stand up and be free! And all they got to say is it’s alright, I feel it!” As many words speakin’ for themselves when referring to the history of Louie Vega and Kenny Dope. Two music lovers who’ve emerged from the Underground to establish themselves as major forces in the production. Meanwhile using their respective backgrounds as a tool to craft their sound as a twosome, but also as individualities.

More than 20 years have gone since the release of ‘It’s Alright, I Feel It’. And the impression of freshness pretty much remains the same. With thanks to its timeless uplifting message and its outstanding interpretation by the likes of Jocelyn Brown. But also to Terry Burrus‘s killer piano part. And how about its overall concept? At the crossroad between the Soul from the Big Apple and Nu Jazz (if not Broken Beat), with an undeniable reminiscence of Hip-Hop, rhythmically speakin’…

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The first mention to Nuyorican Soul dates from 1993 with the release of ‘The Nervous Track’ on Nervous Records.

Nothing more from then on until 1996 and the release of a self-titled album. “Nuyorican” (meaning “New Yorker” in Spanish) being a reminder of both Louie Vega and Kenny Dope‘s Puerto-Rican roots. Although both of them have a slightly different background. With Louie (Hector Lavoe‘s nephew) inheriting from Fania / Salsoul Records’ influences. And Kenny being more of a Hip-Hop B-Boy guy. The twosome getting their connection via Todd Terry and makin’ themselves a name under various guises such as KenLou and Masters At Work.

As a result, ‘Nuyorican Soul’ stands pretty much as their legacy. Paying props to classics that have nurtured their teens such as The Salsoul Orchestra‘s ‘Runaway’ featuring Loleatta Holloway. Or Rotary Connection‘s ‘I’m The Black God Of The Sun’. But also collaborating with some of their heros from Roy Ayers to Tito Puente, George Benson and Vincent Montana, Jr. among others. This giving birth to gems such as ‘Our Time Is Coming’, ‘You Can Do It’ and ‘Sweet Tears’. Not to mention ‘It’s Alright, I Feel It!’ which received countless remixes, from Roni Size to Armand Van Helden or Mood II Swing.

Louie and Kenny told me about their aim to release a follow-up, eventually mentionning their will to collaborate with Manu Dibango among others. Alas, the project never saw the light. Most likely due to the promotional costs of the volume 1, with so many legendary artists on board.

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