MUSIC MONDAY: Dancing with a Young, Gifted, and Brown Soul

Joe Bataan’s music career, which peaked in the late 1960’s, experienced a recent resurgence after he was featured in a 2015 indie documentary “We Like It Like That.” The movie showed his pioneering role in the development of “Latin Boogaloo” a mixture of Latin dance music with rhythm and blues soul, that was a precursor of salsa, disco, and rap music.

Bataan was born in 1942 in East Harlem to a Filipino American father and African American mother. Youthful involvement in neighborhood gangs led him to prison early, but Bataan quickly built his music career after his release. Although not Latino, he integrated the musical influences from his Spanish Harlem neighborhood, mixing doo-wop with Latin dance music, and later recorded R&B-tinged songs with underlying social protest.

The following videos feature Joe Bataan at a recent dynamic performance of his 1966 Latin Soul hit “Gypsy Woman.” Next is the trailer from the film “We Like It Like That” which provides some background to his musical development (caution: strong language). The record “I Wish You Love, Part 1 & 2” shows his musical range as it moves from the slow soulful version of the song to its faster rhythmic variation. The final video, Bataan’s song “Young, Gifted, and Brown” from 1972 expresses a  bittersweet take on his life experiences. This semi-autobiographical record has been widely sampled by current hip-hop artists.

[MuddyScience / YouTube] Joe Bataan Performs “Gypsy Woman” At Central Park SummerStage (Official Video)
[SXSW / YouTube] We Like It Like That | Accepted Film 2015 | SXSW
(caution: strong language)
[YouTube] Joe Bataan – I Wish You Love, Part 1&2
[YouTube] Joe Bataan – Young, Gifted and Brown

Learn more:

  • [New York Times] The Return of Joe Bataan, the Boogaloo King: “The great paradox of Mr. Bataan’s career as an originator of Latin soul is that he isn’t Latino. A self-described mestizo — his mother was African-American, his father Filipino — he was born Bataan Nitollano in 1942 and raised on East 104th Street in Spanish Harlem.” Read more
  • [Huffington Post] A Labor of Love: We Like It Like That – The Story Of Latin Boogaloo: “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. ” Read more

  • [FANIA Records] Joe Bataan Collection: “A distinguished composer and the producer of the vast majority of his albums, Joe brought to his discography a series of innovations, such as the fusion of rhythms influenced by Afro-Cuban and Brazilian music.” Read more

  • [Reelhouse] “We Like It Like That” movie website

Photo credit: Screenshot from [MuddyScience / YouTube] Joe Bataan Performs “Gypsy Woman” At Central Park SummerStage (Official Video)


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