Louie 'Balo' Guzman was born and bred in Connecticut, after his family immigrated from Colombia, South America. Always surrounded by music, he began DJing from a young age at his father's social club, a space that hosted breakdancing crews and began to pump to the early sound of house. It was when he moved to New York's bustling '90s club scene, however, that he really made his name. Having gathered a collection of drum machines, samplers and keyboards, and attended a music production course, he began working at D&D Recording Studios in the garment district on West 37th Street.
Here he rubbed shoulder with such greats as Bobby Konders, Todd Terry, Masters at Work, Junior Vasquez, Danny Tenaglia and Mood II Swing. Later producing records for labels such as Strictly Rhythm, Tribal, Twisted, King Street, Night Grooves and Nervous, he is perhaps best know as part of The Ride committee alongside vocalist 'Roxy'. Producing the 1994 bitch house anthem 'Get Huh', they recently returned with 'Guess Who', their first track together in a decade, for Batty Bass Records.
1. THE JIMMY CASTOR BUNCH 'It's Just Begun'
“This song has everything I dig, funky horns, congas, breaking beats and great energy. I remember hearing this song at a very early age and thinking it was so hot! I went to a record store and bought the album, and the album itself, which I still have in very excellent condition, is a very thin piece of vinyl but is one of my prize possessions. The album also has another song with an intro that goes, 'What we gonna do right here is go back, way back, back into time...' You might of heard that?”
2. SANTANA 'Black Magic Woman'
“Santana is one of my favorite artist. I have been collecting all of his albums since I can remember, and although I have many favorites I lean towards the instrumental parts of his recordings. I first heard this song when I was in the back seat of my dad's car driving over the 59th Street Bridge going from Queens to Manhattan. I remember thinking 'Wow!' When Latin meets rock, no one does it better than Santana. It's spiritual and at the same time very cultural.”
3. GIL SCOTT HERON 'The Bottle'
“One of the best messages brought to you by Master Gil Scott Heron, this is one of those songs that addresses a time when inner cities were facing poverty, drugs and uncertainties. This song has all the elements of funk, Latin and disco, and Gil Scott Heron's lyrics always brought much awareness to social issues. Though he also had his share of problems, he would bring them to the forefront of his musical pieces. Another great song of his to definitely check out is 'The Willing'.”
4. MICHAEL JACKSON 'Rock With You'
“Michael Jackson, who we all knew as the King of Pop, a much deserved title, has influenced so many artist, big and small, through his music. We all felt something, whether it was a love song or a solid club groove like this one, he always brought the funk! When this song starts it puts a smile on my face, it's a feel good song. It makes me dance and sing along, like a good song should. One of the best songs ever!”
5. THE SALSOUL ORCHESTRA 'Ooh, I Love It (Love Break)'
“Produced by Vincent Montana for The Salsoul Orchestra, he had all the elements in here of a great song. Though he has many great songs under his belt, this one is a little different because of the use of vocal rapping and dreamy harmonic backgrounds; the vibes, the percussion and the use vocal samples which were seldom used in classic disco music. The horn stabs and breakdown makes this song extra special. It's been sampled and re-sampled throughout the years, great groove!”
6. LUTHER VANDROSS 'The Glow of Love'
“One of the best voices and classic r&b artists of all time, I had this on a cassette and played it over and over again. The album is great. Since then I've replaced my cassette collection with CDs or digital. The groove is a feel good party starter. Even though I leaned more towards the beats and the breaks of funk songs, there was always jams like this that made me appreciate the artistry of a great singer.”
7. LONNIE LISTON SMITH & THE COSMIC ECHOES 'Expansions'
“I grew up listening to this type of music. I never really categorized it as anything else but 'funky ass hell!' It was ahead of it's time. It's message of togetherness felt right. I was surprised later on to learn that DJ Larry Levan did his own version of it. I'm not sure if it was an edit or a remix, but the original never left my side. It goes on a musical journey that transitions nicely from one instrument to another, love it!”
8. SADE 'Never As Good As The First Time'
“Classic Sade, I remember watching this new channel on TV called MTV. It was great, it played a lot of great songs from a lot of great singers and artists from all different genres. '80s music is very popular because it was a time when a video would compliment a song. It was technology finally catching up, with the introduction to cell phones, beepers and the first Macs. It was an exciting time and Sade was an artist who would simplify things for us all and help us remember that it was all about love!”
9. CURTIS MAYFIELD 'Superfly'
“Curtis Mayfield is one of those artist that is truly pure funk, along with other artist like James Brown, George Clinton and Bootsy Collins. His mastery of his sound is evident! When it comes to his wah-wah driven guitar, funky licks and his unique vocal styled grooves, no one does it better. I collected his albums since I was very young and I bought this not knowing what to expect. I bought it because of the album cover, which reminded me of pimps and hoes!”
10. PRINCE 'Purple Rain'
“What can I say about Prince? An awesome musician, he was one of my greatest heroes. I was fortunate to meet him at one of his concerts. He's very humble and down to earth. I've appreciated his body of work since the beginning, but this album brought him into the spotlight. He was always the bad boy of rock, but was always in control. He is a genius, without a doubt, and his music will always be a part of me!”