Flashback Artist of the Month November 2018

TKA is a dance group prominent in the 1980’s and early 1990’s, mainly in Freestyle epicenters such as New York, Chicago and Miami. The trio, hailing from New York City, were discovered when they sang at a Sweet 16 party that took place in a Spanish Harlem church in 1984. As a favor to the birthday girl, the guys sang love songs Kayel had written over instrumental tracks of the latest rap records. Within seconds Joey Gardner (previous manager) understood that he was watching the beginnings of something special. The Planet Rock inspired electro movement was in full swing in NYC and beginning to sweep Europe and Asia. Gardner, a frequent patron of clubs like the funhouse and the Roxy in NYC, couldn’t help but notice the disparity between the amount of Latinos, specifically Puerto Ricans, who packed the clubs and the number of Latinos involved in the making of the music. “I kept thinking how great it would be if those teens could see themselves up on that stage”, Gardner recalls. “I always wanted to find the right group to make it happen. There was no doubt in my mind that evening of the Sweet 16 event that these guys were it.” He immediately signed them to Tommy Boy Records where he worked as an A&R executive. Taking the same concept that had caught his ears at the party, he transferred it to the studio. The result was Scars of Love, TKA’s debut album which spawned six (6) Billboard top dance hits and several pop hits. The success of the album spurred a mini Latin pop explosion as groups like Expose, The Cover Girls and Lisa Lisa and the Cult Jam stormed the pop charts.

By the release of their second album Louder than Love, TKA was traveling the world opening for groups like Boys II Men, Donna Summer and Paula Abdul. The group originally consisted of five members including Linda “La INDIA” Caballero who eventually left to venture on to a solo project becoming an international salsa artist. TKA first single was One Way Love which was a major hit among the Latin club community in New York and followed up with many other hits, such as Scars of Love, Tears May Fall and

Come Get My Love.

1991 proved to be a very critical year for TKA, and for many of the Freestyle artists as well. TKA released their biggest hits in 1991, Louder than Love and Give Your Love to Me. Despite being very popular and very influential to the Freestyle movement, Tommy Boy requested that the band switch to pop instead of Freestyle. Rather than sacrifice their artistic integrity, the group released one more single entitled Maria, which ironically proved to be their biggest hit, and then split up. Following the split the members of TKA went on to pursue independent interests. Kayel recorded under the name K7 and had a hit album. K7, a New York City native, had success in the mid‐90s with his fusion of rap, dancehall and dance. Kayel once again paired with Joey Gardner to record a solo album titled Swing Batta Swing under the name K7. The gold album spawned three (3) huge international hits including the multi‐million seller Come Baby Come and a club favorite, Zunga Zeng. K7 & the Swing Kids became the new Latin‐flavored hip‐hop dance unit from Spanish Harlem in Manhattan and the Bronx. The U.S. found chart success with the addictive anthem Com Baby come. K7 and his crew combine energetic R&B arrangements with clean rap chants. Led by K7, who gives the group their name, they also featured DJ Non‐Stop, Prophet, Tre Duece, LOS, DJ Skribble, Vice Verse, Ty Bless and DJ Finese. Other DJs also included DJ Fade, DJ Slynkee and DJ Degree. K7’s attitude to labeling is unequivocal and cites “My music as K7 is what most guys do in clubs all over the world, cat call girls and dance. I just put it out on somewhat of a hip‐hop level, it’s party music.” In addition, K7 also performs all of your favorite TKA hits at every show. “Some people in the industry would like to forget what we and the other pioneers of Latin Hip‐Hop created and the doors we kicked open for Latinos. But the fans will not forget nor will they let us forget. That is why we’re doing this again…we are performing for our fans”, says K7. K7’s songs were featured on “The Mask”, “I Like it Like That”, the national commercial for Bernie Mac’s “Mr. 3000”, MTV’s “The Real World”, “New York Undercover”, Gatorade commercials, a VH1 Special at the Apollo, Arsenio Hall, the WB’s 11 Morning Show and K7 also appeared on the national “I Love NY” commercial along with Marc Anthony. K7 has opened the show for R. Kelly, Salt & Pepper, Robbie Williams and Naughty by Nature. K7 has had a long career on New York radio as well working at Hot 97 and 103.5 KTU for 11 years. Whether as K7 or TKA, he continues to perform and records his unique style of music today.