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I was in my second year of University and, having just moved out of halls and into our own house, we decided that we would all chip in when each persons birthday came around and buy them a present. As I’m sure you can guess, part of the present we bought for Tim, one of my housemates, was this album. We were browsing through the shelves of HMV with £7 left when we saw this album in the sale. We looked at the tropical scene on the case that looked like it came from the front of a pack of cigarettes, and scoured the track list covered with the names of well-known artists and decided this might be a good buy. For me, this was the best thing I have ever bought, and it was for someone else. Tim’s birthday arrived. He unwrapped the CD and stuck it in his stereo. We listened to it all the way through, and before it had finished I had already fallen in love with it. We lived in this same house with the same people for the next two years, and over that period I think the CD spent almost equal time in everyone’s CD player in the house. Upon finishing University and returning home, I went to my favourite music shop in Sheffield, Fopp. I was delighted to see this CD at the bargain price of £5 and almost ripped the cashier’s hand off in the rush to get home and listen to the chilled tunes once again. So, who do we have to thank for this musical masterpiece? Well, it is all down to Kenny “Dope” Gonzalez and “Little” Louie Vega. You may know these guys better as Masters as Work, but they are also now going under the name Nuyorican Soul. These two have been around for a long time. In the 1970s they were both prominent on the New York DJ circuit. When they came together as Masters at Work they drew from their mutual Latin background and brought forward a creative new dance sound. It was this album, however, that arguably gave them their greatest acclaim in the dance world. The album holds a fusion of all different musical sounds, soul, salsa, blues, Latin jazz, hip-hop, disco, mambo and house. This album finally proves that the different musical genres are just different branches of the same tree. One of the things that struck me first about the album is the wealth of talented musicians and singers that Gonzalez and Vega included. The list of names has some of the true greats: Jocelyn Brown, India, George Benson, Roy Ayers, Tito Puente, Vincent Montana Jr., Cindy Mizelle, Dave Valentin, Hilton Ruiz, Bennie Diggs, Paullette Williams, Jazzy Jeff, Eddie Palmieri, Lisa Fisher. The tracks on this album are legendary. Both “Runaway” and “I am the Black Gold of the Sun” are known by anyone who knows anything about house music. They are both ultimate chill-out tunes and both have been subjected to numerous remixes, both by Gonzalez and Vega, and outside artists. However, to single out these two tracks seems in some way to diminish the impressive nature of the whole album. The album runs the entire spectrum of music with a splendid mix of vocal and instrumental tracks, both played and mixed by the best in the business. I don’t know anyone who doesn’t like this album. Even my parents, who have always had problems understanding why I listen to that “repetitive, thumping house music” don’t mind me putting this on in their presence. This is a one of a kind album. I have never found anything else like it. It suits almost any occasion. I can put it on specifically to listen to it, or it can sit in the background when I am looking for some mood music. If you haven’t heard it, then find it and listen to it, and if you have heard it, then you will have already bought it!!!
Kenny “Dope” Gonzales and "Little" Louie Vega. Better known as Masters at Work, were already prominent DJs in the early 80s, well before they became NuYorican Soul. NuYorican Soul was released in 1997 Kenny Dope and Louie Vega and from New Yorker of Puerto Rican heritage and grew up with Latin rhythms, mambo, and salsa around them. Later, they were influenced by the Chicago house style, NY hip-hop, and the evolving Latin freestyle. They have remixed and played out live under various guises such as Master at Work, NuYorican Soul, Vega or Gonzalez, KenLou, the Bucketheads, and the Untouchables. This album is one of the best I own, I bought it on a whim, after hearing a couple of tracks on a basketball programme on Channel 4 and then recognised some tracks I heard in a club. Its pretty simple album to listen to in terms or style and sounds, it’s a jazzy house album essentially, with a big lean towards a Latin sound, NuYorican Soul is an album unlike most, in that, in my opinion, it caters for every taste. It caters for those who like House and club music, it caters for people who like big instrumental music and likewise those who prefer some vocals and lyrics. NuYorican Soul can be played out loud for parties and for clubs alike, whilst still being delicate enough to play in the background while your chilling. Since the first release of "The Nervous Track", Masters At Work's NuYorican Soul project has been one of the most highly acclaimed and ground-breaking acts in the dance community, breaking out from being held in just the house category, and crossing over into several different musical genres - meanwhile blurring the lines between the styles and combining them with ease and style. Talkin' Loud label manager Gilles Peterson had hooked up with Masters At Work and an album deal had been arranged and was being worked on. The single, You Can Do It (Baby), had George Benson scatting, working his g uitarist skills and laying down smooth vocals over nearly 16 minutes of pure funk jazz, (provided by Kenny Dope). The fourth single, Runaway, a cover of the Lolita Holloway classic, features the unique vocals of Louie Vega's ex-wife India, along with guitarist Ronnie James and strings by Vincent Montana Jr.. Runaway was the first single to receive reconstructions by outside remixers: Armand Van Helden provided a 11-plus minute funky hard house remix that often crosses the border into some disco-vibes, while Mousse T gave in a soulful house remix. Just when you think the guest list on the first four singles can't be surpassed, the album proves you wrong, hosting even more legendary stars: Tito Puente, Eddie Palmieri, Roy Ayers, Dave Valentin, wheels-of-steel master Jazzy Jeff, and vocalists such as Paulette McWilliams, Jocelyn Brown, and Lisa Fisher. Needless to say, the album is nothing short of legendary...
Disc #1 Tracklisting
2 I Am The Black Gold Of The Sun - Nuyorican Soul, Q-Tip
3 Mind Fluid
4 It's Alright, I Feel It!
6 Makes Your Nature Rise
7 The Nervous Track
Disc #2 Tracklisting
1 Nuyorican Soul Intro
2 I Am The Black Gold Of The Sun - Jocelyn Brown, Nuyorican Soul
3 It's Alright, I Feel It - Nuyorican Soul, Jocelyn Brown
4 Maw Latin Blues
5 Gotta New Life
6 Nautilus (Mawtilus)
7 Taita Caneme
8 Habriendo El Dominate
9 Roy's Scat - Nuyorican Soul, Roy Ayers
10 Sweet Tears - Nuyorican Soul, Roy Ayers
11 Runaway - Nuyorican Soul, India
13 Jazzy Jeff's Theme
14 You Can Do It (Baby) - Nuyorican Soul, George Benson