Sassy K “Playtime”: Enter Hawaiian Freestyle Music

Did Hawaii have a freestyle music scene? No idea. I’d like to ask Sassy K about it, and whether her phenomenal album Playtime had any influence on the Honolulu music scene when it was released in 1990.

My self-proclaimed Find of the Year (so far, at least) has opened me up to a genre that I know very little about: freestyle music. It was only after sharing my discovery with a local digger friend that I heard this term. “Great album,” he said, “Reminds me of Sweet Sensation and Cover Girls. Pure freestyle music.”

Freestyle… Is that what it’s called? A quick Google search and Wikipedia article later I’m staring at a list of artists I’m not familiar with: Stevie B, Timmy T, Company B, Exposé, Information Society, Sa-Fire, Shannon, Nancy Martinez…

Sassy K

So classy: Sassy K.

Freestyle music, it seems, was popular in major metropolitan areas before House music came to dominate the dance scene in the 90s. New York, Los Angeles, Philadelphia, Chicago and Miami were hotbeds for freestyle, which might also be described as Latin electro-pop or Latin hip-hop.

But did Hawaii have a freestyle music scene? No idea. I’d like to ask Sassy K about it, and whether her phenomenal album Playtime (which has nothing to do with Phase 7’s Playtime) had any influence on the Honolulu music scene when it was released in 1990.

If it didn’t, people sorely missed out on some incredible jams. Here’s the title cut:

When I shared this album with another friend of mine—we were heading to the beach on a Sunday morning when I played it on my car stereo—each track left us amazed, even bewildered that Sassy K could bring it this good. “That was the banger!” we’d say after a track finished. And once the next track finished? “That’s the banger too!”

In conclusion: we listened to 10 tracks during that drive and agreed that all of Sassy K’s songs are as outstanding now as they ever were.

Why it took me so long to learn about freestyle is a mystery. My only reasoning why this late 80s/early 90s dance music evaded me for long is likely because the sound of programmed drum machines turned me off when I started digging circa 2004. Now, I totally dig it.

The only question that remains is, Where in the world is Sassy K today?

P.S. Oliver, this post is for you.

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