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Throwback Thursday: Your Essential ’80s and ’90s Freestyle Playlist

Photo: Terry Swoope Videos/YouTube

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Freestyle music, also known as Latin freestyle and Latin hip-hop, is an electronic music genre popular in the late 1980s, and 1990s. The perfect blend of techno, disco, Latin music, and other influences, freestyle was big in areas such as New York (where it originated), Miami, Detroit, Philadelphia, Los Angeles, and the San Francisco Bay Area. For this week’s #TBT, we decided to give you your ’80s and ’90s freestyle playlist for the weekend. Warning: You will sing along, dance, and have major nostalgia moments.

Shannon, “Let the Music Play”

Considered the first freestyle hit, Shannon’s “Let the Music Play” was released in 1983. It reached #1 on Billboard’s Hot 100 chart that same year, and continues to be a dance classic.

Stevie B, “Spring Love”

Stevie B is the King of Freestyle Music. “Spring Love” is iconic, and one of the singer’s best-known songs. Other recognizable tunes from the Ft. Lauderdale native include “Because I Love You (The Postman Song),” “I Wanna Be the One,” “I’ll Be By Your Side,” and “Party Your Body.”

The Cover Girls, “Show Me”

The Cover Girls were a freestyle girl group from New York, consisting of Latina Louise Angel Sabater (Angel Clivillés), Caroline Jackson, and Sunshine Wright (the original lineup). Some of their hits include “Show Me,” “Because of You,” and “My Hearts Skips a Beat.”

Exposé, “Point of No Return”

You can’t talk about freestyle music without talking about Exposé—Jeannette Jurado, Gioia Bruno, and Ann Curless (best known lineup). The all-girl group came out with hit after hit, including “Point of No Return,” “Come Go With Me,” “Seasons Change,” “Let Me Be the One,” “What You Don’t Know,” and “I’ll Never Get Over You Getting Over Me.”

Linear, “Sending All My Love”

OK, the video might be a little cheesy nowadays, but Linear’s “Sending All My Love” is, and continues to be, the jam. The group, which was formed in Sunrise, Florida, was made up of Charlie Pennachio, Katas, Wyatt Pauley, and Joey Restivo.

Debbie Deb, “When I Hear Music”

I dare you not to dance to “When I Hear Music”—I really think it’s impossible. This song, along with Debbie Deb’s (Debbie Wesoff Lopez) other hit, “Look Out Weekend,” are legendary freestyle jams.

Jocelyn Enriquez, “Do You Miss Me?”

The San Francisco Bay Area was majorly into freestyle music. Filipina San Francisco native Jocelyn Enriquez repped for the Bay with hits including “Do You Miss Me?,” and “A Little Bit of Ecstasy.”

Cynthia, “Change on Me”

Cynthia (Cynthia Todino) gave women and men everywhere a song for that common happening of love turned sour with “Change on Me.” Other songs from the Spanish Harlem native include “Dream Boy/Dream Girl,” “How I Love Him,” and “If I Had the Chance.”

Company B, “Fascinated”

Another freestyle group to emerge from Miami was Company B. Their (original lineup: Lori L., Suzan Gonzalez Johnson, and Charlotte McKinnon) song “Fascinated” topped the Billboard Dance Club chart in 1987 for four weeks.

Lisa Lisa & Cult Jam, “Head to Toe”

Nuyorican Lisa Lisa was/is the pride, soundtrack, and imaginary homegirl of Latinxs everywhere. Not only was she super cool, but she was talented. Her many hits include “Head to Toe,” “Lost in Emotion,” “Can You Feel the Beat,” “Let the Beat Hit ‘Em,” “I Wonder if I Take You Home,” and “All Cried Out.”

Sweet Sensation, “Hooked on You”

Sweet Sensation was another talented all-girl group in freestyle, and a big name in the genre. The original lineup of the group from New York was Puerto Ricans Betty Lebron (from The Bronx) and sisters Margie and Marie Fernandez (from LES). Known songs by Sweet Sensation include “Hooked on You,” “Sincerely Yours,” “Take It While It’s Hot,” and “Never Let You Go.”

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