With a sense for the growing expectation for this Thursday’s Freestyle Extravaganza at Madison Square Garden, the Village Voice has published a timely piece on the genre. And if you’re thinking about MCs like C-Rayz or Juice right about now you are on the wrong path. You should be thinking about Lisa Lisa and TKA. Although not in depth the article discusses Freestyle’s HipHop roots, aptly described by Afrika Bambaataa as electro-funk and hip-hop. Link

For your listening pleasure, we re-upped a mix that Lapu did for us back in June of 2005 that includes Spring Love (sandwiched between some other dope sh*t).

It arose from the streets of the Bronx and Spanish Harlem, Miami taking it up with gusto soon after. “Life was more funky in New York for this new sound coming out,” remembers hip-hop progenitor and adamant freestyle supporter DJ Afrika Bambaataa, whose own Soul Sonic Force–era sound laid the genre’s sonic foundation. “Its roots are electro-funk and hip-hop,” he says, crediting Lisa Lisa & Cult Jam with setting it off. Latinos, though, had made their mark in hip-hop from the beginning: Cold Crush Brothers DJ Charlie Chase, Fantastic Five’s Ruby Dee and Whipper Whip, and Fearless Four’s Devastating Tito and DJ Master O.C., for starters.

Interestingly, despite a decidedly hip-hop foundation, freestyle emerged at a time when—some say because—New York Puerto Ricans and other Latinos, following breakdance overkill in the media, suddenly found themselves ostracized from the culture they helped create. “It was ours,” says Bronx-bred George Lamond, a former B-boy and graffiti writer who became one of freestyle’s most popular, enduring artists, “and yet, at one point, suddenly it wasn’t ours anymore.” The scene began to segregate, with even Latin Quarter (where shared freestyle and rap bills, say Leather and Lace and Cutmaster DC, were once the norm) ironically recast as a black club. Suburban rap groups like Public Enemy stormed the once integrated scene, proclaiming it “a black thing” (read: African American)—and no, Latinos didn’t understand.

Performer K7, who co-founded freestyle’s first male supergroup, TKA, says, “Our way to do hip-hop became, ‘Let’s take those same breaks and beats, the hardness of, say, a Rakim track,’ and since we weren’t being embraced as rappers, we sang.” In 1986, their Tommy Boy Records breakout hit “One Way Love” became a top request on black radio powerhouse 98.7 Kiss FM, and the guys hoped their acceptance would reinforce Latinos’ hip-hop profile. They were sadly mistaken.