Chris Barbosa & Mark Liggett

Chris Barbosa and Mark Liggett were the freestyle kings – their hot mix of electro, funk and Latin percussion gave ’80s pop a new energy. Their names may not be familiar, but they were the production duo behind Shannon’s ‘Let The Music Play’ and Xena’s ‘On The Upside’. They had a very commercial sound but they weren’t messing around with their dub versions. Here’s the dub of 1983’s ‘On The Upside’… Xena was Lisa Fischer (who went on to tour with Luther Vandross and the Rolling Stones) and this track is guaranteed to heat up any dancefloor.


Originally a mobile DJ from the Bronx, Barbosa bought his first music equipment in 1983 (a Roland JX-3P and TB-303) with money given to him by his grandmother, and he immediately set about producing his first track. Taking the electro sound of Arthur Baker and John Robie and infusing it with Latin sounds and syncopated rhythms, he came up with an instrumental called ‘Fire & Ice’. Joint owner of Emergency Records, Sergio Cossa (who co-produced the classic ‘Feels Good’ by Electra), loved it and suggested he team up with Liggett. Liggett added pop polish to Barbosa’s “street groove” and together they found a singer, Shannon Greene, to lay down some vocals; renamed ‘Let The Music Play’ and released that year, this track was the birth of freestyle.

‘Let The Music Play’, 1983

Posted by Manny Z

Related Entry:
‘Play At Your Own Risk’

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