We Like It Like That: The Story of Latin Boogaloo (2016)

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Director Matthew Ramirez Warren’s “We Like it Like That” is a masterpiece of musical cinema. It’s a long overdue exploration at the beginning and unfortunate ending of Latin Boogaloo, a musical hybrid that helped to shape a generation and has also lived on in the hearts of younger generations. It’s clear by Ramirez Warren’s enthusiastic direction and approach that he love Latin Boogaloo, and he instills within the subject a unique and bold energy that will educate eclectic music lovers on one of the major influences in modern latin influenced pop and hip hop. As a guy who grew up in the Bronx, I spent many parties sitting alongside relatives that grew up with Boogaloo, and it was always a guarantee that music would be played before the night was up.

Director Matthew Ramirez Warren infuses so much soul and charisma in to his documentary, that even when former boogaloo artists are discussing how they were robbed of money by record executives, and how some artists submitted to drug use, the tone of the documentary is never hrought down, nor does it preach social commentary. True, like most musical revolutions, Boogaloo became a voice for a generation still struggling for civil rights, but most of all it was about expression, catharsis and community. Matthew Ramirez Warren touches base with all of the surviving members of the Boogaloo movement, and they discuss how they created amazing hits like “Gypsy Woman,” and “I Like it LIke That,” to name a few.

Furthermore, we’re given keen insight in to how they managed to learn their craft for music and soulful singing on the streets of the Bronx, rather than in a music school. Most interesting is Joe Bataan, who discusses his life in crime, and how he became a rising boogaloo performer thanks to his smokey voice and creation of the hit song “Gypsy Woman.” There’s a very entertaining anecdote involving his rule over a music class and how he managed to establish himself as the lead member of his music group by slamming a knife down on to a piano and claiming the title of the head singer. Singers like Bataan and Johnny Colon take us through various neighborhods of New York City, discussig how they practiced music, took over music classes, broke in to local churches just to play piano, and were often seeking to re-invent boogaloo for their own audience.

There’s a brilliant exploration of the musical process and how these masterful musicians just invented songs by mere chords, and it helps create a very invigorating journey in to the sound of New York in the 1960’s, and how Latin Boogaloo helped people come together and celebrate their love for the rhythm and soul of these home bred artists. This is a documentary not just for the latin community, or the Bronx community, but for lovers of music, artists of all kinds, and folks who gain some sense of release from music they love. Matthew Ramirez Warren’s documentary is the absolute highlight of 2016, and I highly, highly recommend watching it. He gives Boogaloo the respect and reverence it deserves, and I intend to re-watch the movie very soon.

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