Joe Bataan – King of Latin Soul
Joe Bataan (also spelled Bataán) (born 1942] in Spanish Harlem, New York City) is a Filipino-American Latin R&B musician from New York. He was born Bataan Nitollano and grew up in the 103rd and Lexington part of East Harlem where he briefly lead the Dragons, a local Puerto Rican street gang before being sent to the Coxsackie Correctional Facility to serve time for a stolen car charge.
Upon his release in 1965, he turned his attention to music and formed his first band, Joe Bataan and the Latin Swingers. Bataan was influenced by two musical styles: the Latin boogaloo and African American doo-wop. Though Bataan was neither the first nor only artist to combine doo-wop-style singing with Latin rhythms, his talent for it drew the attention of Fania Records. After signing with them in 1966, Bataan released "Gypsy Woman," in 1967. (The title track is a Latin dance cover of "Gypsy Woman" by The Impressions.) He would, in full, release eight original titles for Fania which included the gold- selling "Riot!". These Fania albums often mixed energetic Latin dance songs, sung in Spanish, with slower, English-language soul ballads sung by Bataan himself. As a vocalist, Bataan's fame in the Latin music scene at the time was only rivaled by Ralfi Pagan and Harvey Averne.
Disagreements over money with Fania head Jerry Masucci lead Bataan to eventually leave the label. While still signed to Fania however, Bataan secretly started Ghetto Records, a Latin music label which got its initial funding from a local gangster,
George Febo. Bataan produced several albums for other artists, including Papo Felix, Paul Ortiz and Eddie Lebron.
In 1973, he helped coin the phrase "salsoul," lending its name to his first post-Fania album. Along with the Cayre brothers, he co-founded Salsoul label, though later sold out his interest. He recorded three albums for Salsoul and several singles, including "Rap-O Clap-O," from 1979 which became an early hip hop hit. After his 1981 album, "Bataan II," he retired from music-making to spend more time with his family and ended up working as a youth counselor in one of the reformatories he himself had spent time in as a teenager. In 2005, Bataan broke his long hiatus with the release of "Call My Name," a well-received album recorded for Spain's Vampisoul label.
Bataan is also the father of Asia Nitollano, winner of the Pussycat Dolls Present: The Search for the Next Doll
In the 2006 game Driver: Parallel Lines by Atari, Joe Bataan's song Subway Joe was included in the soundtrack.
In early 2009, Joe Bataan was featured in the Kenzo Digital-produced "beat cinematic" City of God's Son. Bataan was featured as the narrator of the story, paying the part of an older Nas reflecting upon his youth in the street with cohorts Jay-Z, Ghostface Killah, Biggie and Raekwon.
1967 Gypsy Woman (Fania 340)
1968 Subway Joe (Fania 345)
1968 Riot! (Fania 354)
1969 Poor Boy (Fania 371)
1970 Singin' Some Soul (Fania 375)
1971 Mr. New York & The East Side Kids (Fania 395)
1972 Sweet Soul (Fania 407)
1972 Saint Latin's Day Massacre (Fania 420)
1972 Live From San Frantasia (unreleased, Fania 432)
1973 Salsoul (Mericana)
1975 Afro-Filipino (Salsoul/Epic Records)
1980 Mestizo (Salsoul)
1981 II (Salsoul)
1997 Last Album, Last Song (Bataan Music)
2004 Call My Name (Vampisoul)
2005 DVD – Back in San Francisco (Recorded at the Herbst Theatre)
2005 The Message (ITP & JoBA Records)
2009 King of Latin Soul (Vampisoul)