I still remember it, not clearly, but I can remember. I went with my mom and some friends to a house party. This was the day I discovered the term “wall flower.” I didn’t know it at the time, but I was “holding up” the wall the entire evening. Now mind you, I was about 11 years old, and I had yet to discover the dancing machine that I am today! No really, I have some crazy moves! Operative word, crazy!
Not only did I discover that I was a wallflower, but I also discovered freestyle music that evening. I recall that “The Cover Girls” hit song “Show Me” was playing on the speakers that were taller than even I was at the time. I’ll never forget the first time I heard those electronic strings, and that funky, repetitive bass flow!
Yes, that was the night that I discovered freestyle music! In a house party, in the Bronx, during the latter part of the 1980s!
Who would think that decades later I would be in a boxing class, trading vicious blows with the brother of one of the more popular artists of that era? Who’d think that I would have access to the brother who wrote “Yo fellas, Boricua!” Who would expect that I’d be having a casual conversation on a Friday afternoon with Soave, the gentleman who wrote the major hit freestyle song “Crying over you?”
I have to tell you, it’s pretty damn cool to pick these dude’s brains, to hear the amazing and inspirational stories behind a music genre that has never reached it’s true potential. Until recently, I’ve never spoken to Soave, however, chatting with him on the phone for about an hour felt as if I were catching up with an old friend. The conversation was casual, comfortable, and flowed as if old homies from la esquina en el blocke (the block corner) were catching up after a few years apart.
At one point during our telephone call Soave asked me, so what are we going to do? I replied, we are doing it man! I’m not going to bore you with questions you have been asked 1,000 times before. I don’t have a script to follow brother, I just want to talk to you, get to know you, and that’s all I need to create a real story! Real being the operative word. I don’t want scripted or memorized answers, I want to know the artist, the real person! Soave approved of my methods and was surprised that I was already taking notes and creating a story.
As I spoke to Soave, he told me that back in those days, the artists who were “doing it,” didn’t even realize it. He believes that if an artist said they were a “freestyle” artist, they would be limited and pigeon holed into only having a very limited appeal, to a very limited audience. Many artists back then called the music dance pop or something similar. Now here we are, decades later, and freestyle is still very much alive for those of us who came up in the late 80s and early 90s.
As a fellow artist I understand that though, since I can’t “sing,” I rap as a performer. However, my music is not just “rap” music, I cover rap, rock, pop, spanish, ballads, and I have even taken a stab at country music. Just like Soave I don’t want to pigeon hole myself into just being a “rapper,” my musical expression goes much deeper than that. The thing is, I can’t sing, so I can’t call myself a singer.
A long time has passed since Soave was in his late teens and early 20s during the peak of his as well as the freestyle musical reign! He recently celebrated another anniversary with the woman he has been with throughout all these years. He emphasized how important family was to him, how his children are all from the same mother, and how he makes sure to be there for all of them.
Having children, and being a dad are two different things. I admire a man who prioritizes his family! The lord knows that when you have some hit songs, and you are on top of the music scene, the world is your oyster! With that come all sorts of temptations and potential distractions. You have to respect a man who sticks by his family, and you have to respect a woman and family that endure that type of lifestyle which can be very stressful to them as well. With all great things, come challenges, surviving those is admirable and must be acknowledged.
When I asked Soave about the freestyle genre, why it wasn’t at the level that it perhaps could have been, his answer was straight and to the point. He believes that since so many undeserving, crappy artists jumped on the freestyle bandwagon, that the music industry wrote them off as a joke. They never took them quite seriously. This is probably one of the reasons that many deserving artists from the freestyle genre have never received a Grammy or as high scale recognition as they should.
He expressed how difficult it is to find the true song writers and musical producers of today. You have the front person, and buried somewhere in there are the credits of the “others.” Back in those days, every one knew who the major producers were, as well as the artists! Times change, nowadays you don’t even have to know how to sing, nothing a little pitch correction can’t fix!
Our music genre isn’t as respected because undeserving artists tried to milk it! They’d make one acceptable song, but the rest of the album was crap. Every single block had a freestyle artist.
Soave is still performing at freestyle themed shows with several other artists. He has a cruise coming up this weekend, (I wish I knew sooner, I’d go, I need a “real” vacation) a Radio City performance, (I’m getting a ticket to this one) and many others that you can check out on his website, GoSoave.com!
When he’s not busy performing, the day job is at a BMW Dealership where he has held down a key position for 23 years. As a parent, a husband, and friend to many, like most of us he wears many hats, that of counselor, educator, psychologist, and all those important life roles that we all play at one point or another. I’ll repeat how important being there for family is to him, and how he is thankful and grateful for his wife’s continued support!
She holds it down Angel! She is the rock to our family, without her, I’d be lost.
I was very impressed by my conversation with Soave. The ease with which we spoke, how comfortable I felt, the man is so very down to earth, and true to his name “Soave,” he is a smooth, cool cat! I look forward to seeing more in the creative realm from this man!
It was a pleasure talking to you brother, and I wish you continued success in all of your future endeavors!
Growing Up Bronx
Please note the date on a post as it may be an old viewpoint. I keep old posts to show my evolution. The opinions and views expressed here are solely those of the author.