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TKA, 1990
Background information
Origin New York, New York, USA
Genres Latin Freestyle
House music
Years active 1984–2005
Labels Tommy Boy/Warner Bros. Records
Associated acts George Lamond
Louis "Kayel" Sharpe
Former members
Ralph "Aby" Cruz
"Angel" Vasquez
Notable instruments
Drum machine
Electronic keyboard

TKA was a Latin Freestyle trio that was prominent in the 1980s and early 1990s, mainly in New York City and Miami, Florida. Its members were Tony Ortiz, Louis "Kayel" Sharpe, and Ralph "Aby" Cruz, later replaced by Angel "Love" Vasquez. The acronym TKA represents their collective initials. Early on, the group's members would state in interviews that the acronym stood for "Total Knowledge in Action," as well. All of TKA's members are of Puerto Rican descent. Many Freestyle fans consider them the kings of that genre, although Kayel downplays this label, having stated, "There are no kings in Freestyle."


Hailing from New York City, TKA were discovered when they sang at a sweet sixteen party in an East Harlem church in 1984. Record producer and manager Joey Gardner, who attended the party, was impressed with the trio, and, with his help, were signed to Tommy Boy Records. The group originally consisted of Tony, Kayel, and Ralph "Aby" Cruz, but Aby was replaced by Alejandro "Angel" Vasquez after the release of the single "Tears May Fall." Although not widely known, India was a member of the group in its earliest days, as well. The group’s first single was "One Way Love", a major hit in the Latin club communities of New York and Miami, which was followed by "Come Get My Love". An album was then recorded, entitled Scars of Love, which included the first two singles. The title track was then released as a single, followed by "Tears May Fall", "X-Ray Vision" and "Don't Be Afraid".

In 1989, the soundtrack of the film "Lean on Me" featured the single "You Are the One."

The album Louder Than Love was released in 1990, accompanied by its first single, "I Won't Give Up on You," a slick R&B/Hip-Hop groove that was quite a departure from their earlier material, stylistically. 1991 saw even more diversity of sound with the release of the singles "Crash (Have Some Fun)," a house-music hit that featured a rap vocal by Michelle Visage of the group Seduction, "Give Your Love to Me," and "Louder Than Love."

That same year the trio also performed the song "Are You for Real" on the popular syndicated television program It's Showtime at the Apollo.

Due to Freestyle's declining popularity as a new age of music dawned, TKA were dropped from the Tommy Boy roster soon after the single "Louder Than Love" was released, and the trio disbanded. A greatest hits package was released in 1992, with a new track, "Maria," which was released as a single.

Following the split, the members of TKA went on to pursue independent interests. Kayel recorded under the name K7 and had a hit hip-hop album called Swing Batta Swing, which contained the hit singles "Zunga Zeng" (which sampled and was loosely based on Reggae legend Yellowman's 1983 early Dancehall hit "Zungguzungguguzungguzeng"), "Come Baby Come" and the Cab Calloway-influenced "Hi De Ho." Tony established a production company in New York, and Angel joined the contemporary R&B group Goodfellas.


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