I stumbled across this amazing gem of a documentary while perusing egotripland.com recently: We Like It Like That - The Story Of Latin Boogaloo. Several years in the making, New York Times writer and Latin soul aficionado Matthew Ramirez Warren's labor of love aims to shed light on the rise and then the abrupt fall of Latin boogaloo. Known as "the first Nuyorican music," a description given to it by longtime producer (and former trumpet player for the legendary Ray Barretto orchestra and Tipica '73) René López, boogaloo's lifespan was tragically all too brief, but luckily not forgotten, as Warren brings viewers into the world of a refreshingly (although unfairly) underrepresented slice of music and New York City history.
Born out of the mixing tastes of Cuban, Puerto Rican and black teenagers and the clubs they would all frequent in 1960s East Harlem and the South Bronx, boogaloo became a platform for not only the changing of status quo musical styles, but for the identities and social climate of New York City's Latino youth. By fusing mambo, cha cha and son with R&B, soul, rock 'n roll and jump blues, the genre was truly a marriage of Afro-Cuban and Afro-American rhythms, and since it combined both Spanish and English lyrics, its appeal was widespread. But by 1970, it was gone, and salsa was king.
Utilizing interviews and first hand accounts of boogaloo's birth and death from seminal figures in the Latin music world like Joe Bataan ("Young, Gifted & Brown"), Joe Cuba ("Bang Bang") and Johnny Colon ("Boogalo Blues"), and the always delightful Bobbito Garcia, the film suggests that the music wasn't abandoned by fickle fans or a changing market, but rather was killed off, by old school Latin music purists (with the help of labels like the powerhouse Fania) who put pressure on clubs and booking agents to push boogaloo acts off the bill.
The film originally screened August 10th during a Central Park Summer Stage concert featuring Baatan and Colon. But due to funding needs, We Like It Like That won't be available for wide or DVD release unless it meets its Kickstarter goal of $15,000 by Sunday, October 9th. From the campaign's page:
Through Kickstarter we hope to raise enough funds to put us well on our way towards completing the film for submission to major film festivals, PBS, a possible theatrical release and a successful DVD release. Our reason for making this film has been to inform the public about this incredible period in New York City and Latin music history, and to put a spotlight on the music of these phenomenal artists, whose musical contributions have been overlooked for too long.
You can check out the film above and support its Kickstarter campaign (and snag the epic poster, shown above, among other enticing incentives) here.