Ten vinyl singles that influenced Davidson Ospina

At first listen, Davidson Opsina’s production work might reveal he studied the sounds that defined underground club music. Ospina grew up in Queens in the 1980s where music was its own ecosystem. Influences such as Latin, breakdance, and hip-hop filled out the hierarchy of sounds in urban NYC. Music was experimental, self-referencing, and lent itself to universal access, more or less.

Ospina was the proverbial kid in a candy store.

He’ll be a special guest deejay at this month’s 1,001 Beats event presented by DC’s transformational art collective, Meso Creso. Because he is such a fan of vinyl and the golden age of house music, I couldn’t let him pass through the District without sharing his favorite singles.

1. “Voodoo Ray” – A Guy Called Gerald | Recorded over 2 days in the late spring/early summer of 1988, “Voodoo Ray” was one of hottest singles of its year.

The squelch-heavy groove was released on 7-inch and 12-inch vinyl formats, on the Rham! label. Conceived at Moonraker Studios in Manchester, Rham! pressed 500 copies of the record that sold out in one day, solidifying Gerald’s reign as important figure in the acid house sub-genre.

2. “Rock to the Beat” – Reese & Santonio | This couldn’t be a better anthem for the underground dance scene. It was released by FFRR Records, a British label that sought out high fidelity tracks to press to vinyl. This album has been available in 7- and 12- inch format and both sides have been remixed,

It’s clear Ospina has an affinity for producer Kevin “Master Reese” Saunderson’s work—he makes this list more than once. In the meantime, let the mantra, “Rock to the Beat” take you.

3. “Good Life” – Inner City | Legendary Brooklyn-born producer, Kevin “Master Reese” Saunderson created this standard in house music. It’s a traditional blend of electronic keys and drums and distorted samples.

It also features upbeat vocals from Paris Grey, a gospel music-trained chanteuse also known for her contributions to Detroit house.

4. “I’ll Be Your Friend” – Robert Owens | RCA recording artist Robert Owens was a rare egg in that he was one of few successful male singers in the house music scene. Already a trailblazer in the late ’80s, “I’ll Be Your Friend” became a club standard in 1992.

Versions of this song have been blessed by David Morales and the late Frankie Knuckles.

5. “The Whistle Song” – Frankie Knuckles | Frankie Knuckles made headlines in March 31 with news of his passing. The community of dance deejays delivered tributes and condolences alike to Knuckles, a mainstay in the house genre. Released by Virgin Records, “The Whistle Song” is one of his most famous productions.

The song has an easygoing temperament that has a pop feel to it, very much like Ospina’s pop remixes. Great track aside, its style might explain Ospina’s inclination toward it.

6. “Deep Inside” – Hardrive | Louie Vega, the producer behind Hardrive’s “Deep Inside” likes breakbeats, loops, and Barbara Tucker’s powerful vocals.

By 1993, Vega was part of an exclusive echelon of house deejays, and “Deep Inside” was another one for the books, making Strictly Rhythm Records one of the most successful American house music labels.

7. “I.O.U.” – Freeez | As we were coming off disco music, producers such as John Rocca were experimenting with remnants of the genre such as drum machines as well as a new technique called sampling.

Freeez, led by Rocca, scored with “I.O.U.” an international hit, also known as one of the first to apply the technique later adopted by hip-hop producers. “I.O.U.” might also be a great song to help you learn your vowels.

8. “Bango (To the Batmobile)” – Todd Terry | In the late ’80s Sleeping Bag Records established itself as another label that released quality house music. In this little sample-heavy opus, Todd Terry takes snippets of other tracks from the label and creates a heart pumping dance track.

“Bango” is an experimental groove that seems like kin to “Batdance,” a sample-driven groove written for Tim Burton’s Batman and produced by Prince. Listen to the similarities.

9. “The Mexican” – Jellybean | John Benitez, aka Jellybean, interpolated Ennio Morricone and prog-rock band Babe Ruth to make this fun, synth-driven classic from 1984.

Originally released as a 12’’ on EMI, “The Mexican” release had a dance mix, an a cappella version, and a short version for radio play. Vocalist Jenny Haan, part of Babe Ruth also sang for Jellybean’s version.

10. “Planet Rock” – Afrika Bambaataa | Afrika Bambaataa is the first old-schooler to use the Roland TR-808 in a hip-hop track. Yes, this song. For die hards fans of funk and electronic music, “Planet Rock’s” sound converges like the Tigris and Euphrates.

On this “planet” Bambaataa’s takes the simple, electronic strings of Kraftwerk’s “Trans-Europe Express” and creates sound that influenced that likes of 2 Live Crew and… Davidson Ospina.

Ospina is the special guest deejay at 1,001 Nights this Saturday with Meso Creso resident artists at Zeba Bar, 3423 14th Street, NW. Admission is free. Age: 21+

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