MUSIC REVIEWS
by: Francis Tanneur
Opinions expressed are those of the individual writer for informational purpose
only. They do not necessarily reflect the opinions or viewpoints of
Freestyle Music.Com.

Contact Francis Tanneur at:francistanneur@hotmail.com

MUSIC REVIEWS # 15

(May / June 2001)

 

CHRISTINA MARIE: “Turning away” (12 inch) VAZRAM RECORDS
Score: 4 stars (For the VR’s Freestyle mix)
Score: 2 stars (For the other mixes)
 

Here is once again a wonderful surprise concocted by the Californian label Vazram Records. 

This time Mario Vazquez wasn’t only the producer, he also delivers a mix that is without the shadow of a doubt the best one available on this maxi single. He proposes us a Teen artist of 16 years old whose vocal performance - that allies power and quality- is in the same line as Synthia Figueroa. The style of this young singer from the Bay Area (which has been practicing singing since the age of six years old) mixes up an Old School Freestyle rhythm beat to some sound effects from Progressive Freestyle, while vocoderizing and filtering Christina Marie Rubino’s magnificent voice. Mario Vazquez consolidates the general effect by the addition of edits and emulators. The result is off da hook and extremely original! 

As for the other versions, well, they are less interesting. The House mix doesn’t fit (in my humble opinion!) with the timbre of her voice while the “Club Remix” is a nth outdated mix of the West Coast Freestyle genre, and appears rapidly too common and a little bit too much redundant. 

The only version composed by Mario Vazquez will subjugate you and is worth getting it. The acquisition of this vinyl record is simply obvious. 

ELECTRO FREESTYLE POWER: “The ultimate compilation for B-Boys and B-Girls” (CD compilation) MIAMI BASS RECORDS / DMG / SPV (Germany)
Score: 4 stars

The title sums up excellently the content of this great CD that allows 16 Electro Freestyle tracks destined to B-Boys and B-Girls. And that’s that, I’ve said everything! See ya… 

No, more seriously, this compilation is applied to the Electro amateurs whose style is very close to the Electro Funk and Electro Hip-Hop styles launched in the eighties. Of course, the genre has evolved to a more electronic sound whose particularity is to constantly use the vocoders (voice modified by a computer or by keyboards) or rappers from time to time. The melodies and the keys are more imposing and sustained, the beat is also more powerful and fast. In Germany, the Electro spearheads are the bands as famous as Freestyle Project and Music Instructor. But also and mainly the prodigious dancers of Flying Steps which is undeniably the band for B-Boys and B-Girls! Their percussive style mixes Electro music to some superb and impressive choreography bound to the Break Dance movement. Thanx to these groups, the Electro genre has been making a resounding come back in this country since about 1998. 

This compilation is so dedicated to the lovers of this musical phenomenon that it won’t ever stops to passionate me! It is one of the best compilations out on the market since “The World Of Electro (available last year on the ZYX Music label) also “premeditated” by the Stephan Distel crew of DMG company.You will find some classics as Freestyle Masters “Don’t stop the beat”, Lucas Valley “Execute”, Delta 7 “Bass generator”, Freestyle Masters “Electro masters”, DJ Misha “So damn tuff” and Electro Freak “United”. Other tracks should follow the same path as Supernature “Roll with it”, E-vox “The robots dance again” or the only American representative, The KromOzone Project “Energy”. 

EP: Mecca: “Please don’t go” / KennyFreestyle: “Stay with me” / Monalicia: “Getaway” / Joleen: “Missing U” / Joleen: “Fantasy boy” (12 inch) SIDEBUSTERS ENTERTAINMENT
Score: 2 stars
 

As for the compilation, the goal of this EP is an excellent way to discover new songs and artists. KennyFreestyle perfectly understood the usefulness of distributing his first vinyl record on his own label SideBusters Entertainment. 

Solely composed of Progressive Freestyle productions, the selection is quite interesting, but nevertheless, it’s less than very enthusiastic. Of course, we can be seduced by the relaxing and good style of Mecca and the two titles by Joleen (for instance, the chorus is very important on these three tracks!). But unfortunately, there is nothing to say about Monalicia’s bonus beat that is unbearable even if the keys are superb (the speed of the beat is more particularly incomprehensible and botching). And KF’s tune continually harked back since 1996, is not the best title that he sang, far from it! 

Well, in short, it’s a good initiative, but otherwise, the selection is not as good as I had expected. A little disappointment to be honest! 

EUROFREESTYLE VOL.1 (CD compilation) VENTURA INTERNATIONAL RECORDS (Canada)
Score: 3 stars
 

This is the first “official” collaboration in Canada between Atilla C. Uyanik (the boss of Ventura International Records) and Stephan Distel (the owner of Distel Media GmBh in Germany). This association should be very advantageous for the Canadian Freestylers, insofar as Distel Media GmBh (DMG) possesses an incredible catalogue of artists and songs, which should make some Freestyle labels green with envy. Throughout his numerous affiliated Freestyle labels as Miami Bass Records, Seven Up! Music, Trendline Records but also his deal with SPV Recordings, DMG certainly remains one of the most productive and active German companies as regards Freestyle music. 

It is fitting to say that this comp will adapt without any trouble to the Canadian market that also proposes (as the German market) a countless number of productions with a Planet Rock beat. So, this CD is definitely not a mixture of Euro Dance & Freestyle music tracks as you might think, especially when you see the title “EuroFreestyle”. On the contrary, it permits you to discover 18 tunes from the German production. There is, of course, a majority of Freestyle titles including a Planet Rock beat (11 tracks, to be precise!) but also 6 Old School Freestyle songs and 2 gems in the pure tradition of German Electro. My only regret is to note that a few singers (especially male artists) have off key vocals…which is as well one of the shortages of the Canadian market. Some of you guys should really stop singing! 

This compilation offers you a large and representative panel of quality titles (except a few ones) that already did well beyond the Rhine. A good opportunity to familiarize you with this country which is distributing more singles and compilations than North America. Amazing, isn’t it? 

FLYING STEPS: “Breakin’ it down” (CD single) JETSET / DANCE STREET / ZYX MUSIC (Germany)
Score: 1 star 

To this day, it’s assuredly the most disappointing single from this German band that is climbing in the polls, and which has become a model for a bunch of Electro fans. Besides, the members of this group have surpassed their model (Music Instructor) with whom they started in the business with the single “Super sonic” in 1998. 

Unfortunately, “Breakin’ it down” is a boring single that marries the style of the hit “Freestylers” by the Finish group Bomfunk Mcs.. (A genre also appreciated by Adam Marano through Mr. Bass Feat. Streetstyler) with the Break Dance movement (if you prick up your ears, you will certainly recognize the big hit of the eighties “Street dance” by Break Machine). So, there is nothing original, and most important we can be extremely disappointed by this lack of creativity. 

I make the wish that Flying Steps won’t have the stupidity to confine themselves to this kind of music, otherwise I can bet that the B-Boys and the B-Girls will support somebody else. Wake up guys!!! 

You can console yourself in trying to remix this song on your own computer with the “Magix Play R” software. Your version will be available on the next CD single of Flying Steps, as was the case for Markus Hoelscher who was the happy winner. He saw his mix of “We are electric” included on this CD. 

But this time, you have a lot work to do! Good luck! 

FREESTYLE GENERATION NEX (CD compilation) IDOL MAKER RECORDS / HOT JWP MUSIC, INC.
Score: 3 stars
 

This second compilation is finally released (it was announced a long time ago) less than five years after their first CD “Freestyle Connecticut” out in 1996. So, have the things changed and have we come to a new generation? 

I don’t know why but this title immediately intrigued me, and for the occasion I plunged again out of curiosity into their first compilation to see the evolution. You can see by yourself that the ruling staff is the same (Billy Idol, Jose Baez, Frankie Hernandez, Willie “Valentin” Rivera for the editing digital work, the only “newcomer” being William E. Gil as the executive producer. The artists are also identical (C.J. Bass, Ashley, Xcel, Dyphrnt Stylz) with nevertheless some new Freestyle heads as Makayla, C.K., Malan, Savon and Kane. There are also 10 songs, and it’s once again distributed by Hot JWP Music (well known in the past under the name of Hot Productions, Inc.). But the comparison stops here! 

Honestly, the “generation nex” is not here and unchanged, but you can see a better quality of the Old School Freestyle products contained on this CD. Even if the voice of certain artists stay pretty fair (Kane, Savon, C.K.), the songs are otherwise quite good and not boring. A good surprise! 

GINA DEE: “I’m waiting” (CD single) MIAMI BASS RECORDS / DMG (Germany)
Score: 2 stars
 

This new single from the charming, ravishing and talented Gina Dee is once again interesting…but! 

Produced by Chicco, “I’m waiting” is oriented to a more Progressive Freestyle genre, but the style of her track “stagnates” into the Germanic sounds (utilization of a Planet Rock loop, imposing keys and a voice vocodorized and modified). 

The general impression on this single stays pleasant, but this change doesn’t transcend the genre. 

MC. G. GABRIEL: “Fantasy” / “MC. G. Gabriel megamix” (CD single) MIAMI BASS RECORDS / DMG (Germany)
Score: 2 stars
 

In Germany, this singer of 26 years old is better known for his producer’s work (Double Effect, Sweet TB, Ceres…) than as a singer. Moreover, “Fantasy” is the first single available on CD. 

Even if this track is rather likeable to listen, in the end it does not appear original. This genre has unfortunately a feeling of déjà vu and it is very close from The Officer & Elios or from Free System. As concern Free Stystem, I’m mainly talking about the vocals than about the Old School style of Free System. 

Besides, MC. G. Gabriel seems to find pleasure in staying in the same musical domain (especially as a producer / remixer) where Planet Rock beat has become a component of his work and style. That’s too bad, because there are very often some beautiful melodies and composition in his production, this is of course the case for the title “Fantasy”. 

Moreover, his voice is far to be perfect and outstanding. But hopefully, the presence of Ceres in the backing vocals and chorus is definitely a big asset. 

Of a 10’58 length, the medley is well remixed and contains five titles of MC.G. Gabriel (the remake of buxom Laura Branigan “Self control”, “So you”, “Forget”, “Fantasy” and “Nothing about it”). Assuredly a nice bonus! 

MR MIAMI’S FREESTYLE COLLECTION VOL.4 (CD compilation) GECKO RECORDS / HOT JWP MUSIC, INC.
Score: no stars
 

Those as myself who have read the prose of Steve “Mr. Miami” O’Neill (throughout his “Freestyle files” column) already know that he was a relentless and passionate upholder of quality in Freestyle music. He was the writer of this column in the DMA Magazine until August 1995, before to get fired plain and simple! So, a question came to my mind quickly: “How could he fall so low into mediocrity?” 

This compilation is simply heartbreaking and distressing because none of the songs provoke any interest. All the tracks are simply useless to tell you the truth.

The singers (they have off key vocals and sing very bad) and the productions (pitiful, pathetic and without any originality) sound all the same whatever the artist or the musical style (New School, Progressive Freestyle, Electro, etc.) 

Sincerely, it is very difficult to understand the use of this CD, except that it might become one of the most awful compilations out these last years. Not very difficult because the productions are really execrable! 

100% FREESTYLE (CD compilation) TRENDLINE RECORDS / DMG (Germany)
Score: 4 stars
 

This is a CD that I have a lot of pleasure listening to…over and over! 

The DMG crew proposes us a whole series of excellent Electro Freestyle anthems (except the fair tracks “Don’t stop the music” by Double Effect, “Pump this party” by Freestyle project & and the song by Liebesschmerz). It especially contains 9 never-before-released tunes: Natural Sonic Feat. Sue C. “Chinagirl”, Flying Steps “We are robotic”, The KromOzone Project “Luv with U”, Anthony Norris “Why”, The Officer & Elios “Party”, Kenny K “You are not my friend”, Ceres “Show me your love”, 4-Ever “Happy tears” and a bonus track in German language (extremely rare) called “Dein ist main ganzes herz” by Liebesschmerz. 

We sincerely hope that is the beginning of a long and great series of CDs, whose purpose will be to propose some quality productions (especially thanx to the presence of unpublished titles from famous or not well known singers and groups) to finally become a “reference”. After the decline of the ZYX Music series, Trendline Records has a big chance to take its place. We will see with the second compilation. 

Anyway, that’s starts very well for this new entity (Trendline Records), whose the vocation is also to distribute other musical styles as House, Dance, Techno and Trance.

A label and a series to keep an eye on! 

PLUMMET: “Damaged” (CD single) NEBULOUS RECORDS
Score: 4 stars (For the Johnny Cage’s BreakBeat 12 inch mix)
Score: 3 stars (For the Ford’s Trancendental 12 inch mix)
Score: 2 stars (For the Xquizit DJ X Jump Up Drum n’ bass mix)
 

The “Damaged” songs appeared for the first time on the original soundtrack of “Brokedown Palace” (a film available in theatres in 1999, with actress Claire Daines in the main part) and were originally interpreted by Plumb, the singer being Cheramy Burgess.

Two years later, and after a serious musical and vocal lifting, the track is now sung by Plummet and distributed by Nebulous Records in Florida. 

The result is simply terrific, and more captivating than the original version. The crystal voice of Nikki is grandiose and contributes enormously to the interest of this single. The most enthusiastic versions are undeniably those composed by Johnny Cage (a newcomer from Louisiana) that offers us a fair compromise between BreakBeat and Electro. His work is remarkably inspired.

The Trance version remixed by Ford (producer of Robin Fox) is also exciting. And at least the Drum n’ bass by the initiator of this project Eric B. Muniz (better known under the name of DJ X) is not bad even if this style is not my favorite one. 

This is one of the most beautiful and magnificent songs of the year 2001. Nebulous Records can rub his hands for this splendid acquisition. You should pretty soon hear about this song that is already a great success in Florida. 

ROCKELL: “What u did 2 me” (CD single) ROBBINS ENTERTAINMENT LLC / BMG DISTRIBUTION
Score: 4 stars (For the Adam Marano’s album version and the two mixes by Lenny “Linus” Douglas)
Score: 1 star (For the other mixes)
 

When I started listening to this CD, I had a few qualms! The House mixes by Jonathan Peters and Tony Collucio proved quickly musically poor and too particularly noisy for us to care about their work. Also, there isn’t any long mix of the album version by Adam Marano, and that is a big disappointment since this version is the best one.

So, I was disappointed…very disappointed. And then, I discovered the versions (Radio & Club) by “Linus”. I had a sigh of relief! 

Once again the inspiration and the creativity over and over renewed by Lenny “Linus” Douglas bear their fruits. This young remixer from the Bay Area (he only has 3 years of activity in this business) is becoming a sure value in his different works (I never stop repeating it!) on the Freestyle music.

Thanx to the help and influence of Slammin’ Sam Maxion and Randy Taylor-Weber, we are happy to see him still here. Besides, he constantly improves and innovates in his productions. This single is once again only a small example of his multiple talents, which consists in mixing the musical genres that he appreciates (Euro Dance, Trance and Freestyle music for instance).

Oscillating between New School and BreakBeat, “Linus” proposes us a wonderful remix with some keys and melodies “à la Carlos Berrios” that are simply beautiful. The magnificent voice of Rockell just has to do the rest of the job! I also particularly adore the introduction of vocoders and Progressive elements. It’s really clever! 

Certainly satisfied by his work on the singles “Thinking about you” by Cynthia and “Boogie your body” by Daisey, the Robbins Entertainment crew called him again. They did the right thing because Lenny Douglas achieved great feats. Terrific job “Linus”! 

ROSALINDA: “Feel the love” (CD album) ILLUSIVE RECORDS
Score: 2 stars
 

I will be very clear about this first album; it is destined to the Dance music amateurs and not only to the Freestylers who appreciate the West Coast sound. 

But the decision of the producers (Rajeev “DJ Raj” Prasad, DJ Chill and Tyler Stone) and Rosalinda is to have chosen musical versatility. This is not a bad choice in itself, on the contrary! Otherwise, something annoys me concerning this album: it is the concept of mixing the musical styles in each track. I got lost, and for myself, I found the step not really entertaining, and far to be original and convincing. I also have this feeling of  “musical holdall” concerning the 4 Freestyle songs. Some Dance rhythms are mixed up to some Old & New School Freestyle and Progressive Freestyle beats for the titles “Hypnotized”, “Let’s find away” and “Give all me your love”. Some keys and melodies from the Miami Sound are also present especially in the songs “Hypnotized” and “Goodbye”.Nevertheless, in this precise case, the Freestyle titles are pretty successful, and the splendid voice of Rosalinda is also important to the final result. 

However, the album left me a little bit indifferent, even if the Freestyle tracks are captivating enough…maybe it’s the most important thing…though! 

SBP FEATURING DJ PAULY: “What am I to do” (CD single) SILVERBACK RECORDS
Score: 4 stars
 

For the first extract from the “The SBP product” compilation, the Silverback Records’s staff called a few celebrities from the Freestyle world: Victor Franco, Willie “Valentin” Rivera, Michael Anthony Bertot, Randy Taylor-Weber and Lenny “Linus” Douglas. With such line-up of producers/remixers, we could expect a positive result! 

All the Progressive Freestyle aficionados will be in seventh heaven because there is a bunch of excellent mixes to enjoy. I will begin with the two remixes of Willie “Valentin” Rivera that mix an Electro / Progressive with some Old School elements (melodies, keys and edits “à la Willie Valentin”). “Randy Galaxy’s dream style mix” and his West Coast style propose a Planet Rock beat including a beautiful melody concocted by Randy Taylor-Weber. The “Linus blue sky mix” by Lenny Douglas is a musical UFO because his mix is a kind of hybrid (as he loves to repeat himself) between Break Beat and New School Freestyle enriched by Trance music melodies. It can appear as a weird musical mixture, but in reality it’s really brilliant. And to finish with the listening, you can listen to the “Original mix” (the compilation’s version) and “Victor Franco’s bonus mix” offered in the BreakBeat genre (not bad!). The Dance music amateurs could also delight themselves with the Euro dance version by Victor Franco on the “Extended & radio mix”, or the great Disco House version (my favorite one) by Randy Taylor-Weber on “Randy Galaxy’s house mix”. 

Also, the voice of DJ Pauly is particularly slow and smooth. It will permit him to feel at ease in every musical style. 

A first impressive single! 

THE BAY’S BEST FREESTYLE & MORE (CD compilation) SILENT PARTNER RECORDS
Score: 1 star
 

How can we keep a straight face (the CD’s title is a joke!), and don’t be thoroughly annoyed if you make the big mistake to buy this kind of compilation? 

Let me start by breaking down the title itself. “The Bay’s”: okay for this one, because the artists and groups come from this area. Then, the word “Best”: an adjective extremely pretentious to use in this kind of marketing operation for the simple reason that we are far from the “Best” but closer to the “Worst”! Then, the word “Freestyle”: you are very stunned, fussy and horrified. Because there are only 4 Progressive Freestyle productions (Sharyn Maceren “One and one”, Epic Voices and the remix of “Stand up”, Kenny “Wanna be your lover”, Steelo “Don’t you know”). Except for the hit by Sharyn Maceren, the other songs are not very exciting. So, it’s an absolute musical desert for Freestylers! And we finally end up with “& more”, which is very important in this precise case. It’s simply an anthology of the worst things you can do in Dance music (except for the good House Disco tracks from DJ Super JC and the Dance song “A little more time” by Sharyn Maceren). Every musical genres (House Disco, Dance music, Bass, Euro Dance, Rap, R&B, Pop…) is represented here to touch a larger audience. So what? Why did the producers not entitle this CD “The Bay’s Best DANCE & Freestyle”? I know, the title would have convinced the Freestylers less, but that would have been more sincere. Anyway, the word “Best” stays unacceptable and difficult to digest! 

This is why it is very important sometimes to know correctly the etymology of some words to give them their right sense and to use it wisely! 

TOPAZ: “Freestyle” (CD album) GECKO RECORDS / HOT JWP MUSIC, INC.
Score: 1 star
 

To be honest, I’m not crazy for this first full-length album from Luis “Topaz” Gonzales. There is nothing to say in reality! 

Even if you’re going from one song to another, the music and the style don’t change. However, in 1997, I had the big pleasure to discover his great Freestyle gem “Dreary day” and I had been pretty seduced by the very particular track “Lullaby”. Otherwise, after having listened conscientiously to all the songs contained on this CD, my opinion on this vocally irregular singer has radically changed. I was indifferent to his style, and the other titles appearing on this album bored me to death! 

This is the kind of album that you’ll listen to once (to write an article for instance) and you’ll forget it without any regrets! 

My Top 10
(12”, tape & CD singles) 

1] Plummet: “Damaged” Nebulous Records
2] Sharyn Maceren: “One and one” Captaur Records
3] Christina Marie: “Turning away” (VR’s Freestyle mix) Vazram Records
4] Rockell: “What u did 2 me” (Linus mix) Robbins Entertainment LLC
5] Free System: “This love is not right 4 you” (Psycho remix) Freefiles Records / SPV (Germany)6] SBP Featuring DJ Pauly: “What am I to do?” Silverback Records
7] The KromOzone Project Featuring Randy Lance: “Luv with U” TBC Productions
8] Make Believe: “For the last time” Vazram Records
9] Sweet TB: “Let me fly” MNF Records / ZYX Music (Germany)
10] Elissa: “Back to me” Ti Amo Records (Canada)

 My Top 5
(Compilations & medleys) 

1] D.J. Damon Cain A.K.A. Devious D. Presents Vintage Freestyle Grooves: “Collector’s Edition vol.1” (medley) MainSource Distribution
2] Bad Boy Joe Presents The Best Of Freestyle Megamix (medley) What If Productions / E-Lastik Recordings, Inc.
3] Silverback Records Presents The SBP Product (compilation) Silverback Records
4] 100% Freestyle (compilation) Trendline Records / DMG (Germany)
5] Freestyle Heaven vol.2 (medley) SPG Music Productions LTD (Canada)

 My Top 5
(Albums) 

1] Sammy C: “Taking it through the millenium and beyond” Roman Empire Productions
2] Rockell: “Instant pleasure” Robbins Entertainment LLC
3] The KromOzone Project: “Love & energy” TBC Productions
4] Elissa: “I can’t stop - Freestyle hits” Ti Amo Records (Germany)

4] The Underdog Project: “It doesn’t matter” Loop Dance Constructions / Kontor Records / Universal Music (Germany)

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