Little Louie Vega | Theater Critic's Choice | Chicago Reader

Little Louie Vega 

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Little Louie Vega and his longtime creative partner, Kenny "Dope" Gonzalez, are a Nile Rodgers and Bernard Edwards for the 90s, auteurs who've condensed wide-ranging influences--hip-hop, disco, salsa, Latin freestyle, early Chicago house, dancehall reggae--into a tough but ebullient groove that dominates their corner of the world. If you've gone to a house club even once this decade, you've almost certainly danced to one of their tracks. They've recorded under enough names to fill out the entire roster of a record label--Masters at Work, KenLou, Ruffneck, Nuyorican Soul, and Untouchables, among others--and like Chic's Rodgers and Edwards they've created a cottage industry's worth of club hits, including their own "Runaway," "It's Alright, I Feel It!," "Everybody Be Somebody," "Nervous Track," "Get Up," "What a Sensation," "Bounce," and "Voices in My Mind." They also produced Barbara Tucker's definitive diva-house anthem "Beautiful People," and have given groundbreaking remix treatments to Neneh Cherry's "Buddy X" (their version is such an uncanny precursor to two-step garage that Tuff & Jam often include it in up-to-the-minute mixes); Saint Etienne's "Only Love Can Break Your Heart" (one of the only indie-rock-dance crossovers that still holds up today); and Incognito's "Nights Over Egypt" (which they made sound like an updated Earth, Wind and Fire classic). Vega, who'll be flying solo at this gig, is also legendary on the decks, and his skills can be sampled on a number of mix CDs, the most recent of which is New York Underground: The Nu Groove Years (Roadrunner). It's not definitive Vega--the closest thing to that is his raw, soul-filled United DJs of America Vol. 2 (Moonshine)--but its ten tracks, all released between 1990 and 1993 for the influential New York house label, capture the hopeful, anthemic, pushing-up-from-the-underground feel of the era. Great fun, particularly the muttering, squeaking, and heavy breathing of New York Housing Authority's "Apt. 3A" ("Are you double-jointed? Just wondering"), Assylum's shameless Derrick May ripoff "Stringz," and Hou'z Neegroz' baldly campy "How Do You Love a Black Woman" (answer: "Like this!"). Friday, 10 PM, Metro, 3730 N. Clark; 773-549-0203. Michaelangelo Matos


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