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Track 4: Freedom in Freestyle, La Brega

Written and Narrated by Raquel Reichard

Produced by Joaquin Cotler

Edited by Mark Pagán 

Created on the streets by young Nuyoricans in the mid-1980s, freestyle music became the soundtrack for the lives of second-generation Puerto Ricans. Hip-hop and pop, Latin Caribbean rhythms and instruments — it all came together in freestyle. The sound was ubiquitous in New York, and later in Orlando, Florida, where many of these Boricuas were charting new ground. 


Young freestyle artists sang about love, heartbreak, and their sexual desires. In Lisa Lisa & Cult Jam’s “I Wonder If I Take You Home” — one of the genre’s biggest hits — a young woman sings about her sexual desire, on her own terms and without shame. As a Boricua born in the '90s, reporter Raquel Reichard didn’t experience the freestyle explosion in real time, but she’s felt its profound ripple effects. In this episode, we meet two mother-daughter duos — including Raquel and her mother — for whom “I Wonder if I Take You Home” is particularly special. The song opened intergenerational conversations around sexuality, respectability and empowerment.

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