Ten years ago, a group of friends calling themselves The Latin Soul Brothers got together at a small bar in Oakland to create an experience they named Makossa for aficionados of Latin and Afrobeat music. A decade later, and now with parties spanning from Los Angeles to Brooklyn, The Latin Soul Brothers return to their beginnings this Thanksgiving weekend to celebrate with the simple intentions of good music, good food, and good people.
We caught up with resident DJs Wonway and Joe Quixx to talk about Makossa, vinyl scores, and their upcoming 10-year anniversary.
Give us a brief history of when each of you started DJing.
Joe Quixx (JQ): I started DJing when I got into high school. I just couldn’t believe that you could play two records at the same time and I had to try it.
Wonway (W): My homie EJ got turntables and a mixer one year for his birthday. He would let all his friends borrow them for weeks at a time sometimes. Eventually, people around school heard about it and we started DJing house parties sometime around ‘95 or ‘96.
How did The Latin Soul Brothers portion of your careers begin?
JQ: When I was the DJ for the “Wake up Show” on KMEL in S.F., the host would always refer to me on air as “Joe Quixx the Latin Soul Brother.” As time went on and I kept adding DJs to my crew [and] we became known as “The Latin Soul Brothers.” I would have to say that the name fits every member of the crew perfectly.
If there’s a song that represents your crew, what would it be?
W: I would have to say Roberto Roena’s “Que Se Sepa.” It’s the perfect combination of a classic salsa tune that is also a legendary b-boy jam. Kind of represents both sides of who we are. Plus, we used the cover of that album for one of our first Makossa flyers.
How did Makossa start? What was the first party like?
W: I was working with Joe at Amoeba Records in Berkeley and we were finding all this great Latin music, so we decided we wanted to do a night somewhere. I set us up at Little Baobab in S.F. and we were doing a Monday night party there called Caña with the late great DJ Domino. About six months into doing the event, Domino was tragically murdered in the Mission. We tried to keep it going for a few months after that, but it just didn’t feel right without Domino. A few months later, Joe hooked us [up] with Easy Lounge in Oakland and we decided to start fresh with a new name, and we had Makossa on Tuesday nights. The first night was great. Being on a Tuesday it wasn’t tons of people, but we knew we had something special, at least to us.
What’s it like reflecting on a decade of this party?
W: It’s crazy to think it’s been that long, but I’m so grateful for it. When we started the party, my focus was completely on my career as an emcee, so I was just the host. Doing it every Tuesday, Joe would start letting me get on and mentored me into DJing again, which has pretty much changed the course of my life. Seeing it grow and become this huge and special thing in New York and now Los Angeles has been amazing to be a part of.
What has been one of your most memorable experiences of the party?
W: There’s a lot for me, but one of them has to be doing Makossa on election night in ’08 when Obama won. Oakland was so alive that night. People were dancing on tables and in the middle of the street. The people felt so much hope in that moment. It was beautiful. Almost an exact 180 to how I saw people in San Francisco feeling this past election night.
Who is your dream guest to feature at Makossa?
W: Masters At Work (Kenny Dope & Louie Vega).
Brooklyn and L.A. has Makossa cookouts. When will you bring it to the Bay?
W: After many years of trying to make it happen, I think we finally found a location for the Makossa Oakland Cookout which would start this coming summer. Stay tuned!
What’s your most treasured vinyl score?
W: I have a 45 rpm record of Los Hermanos Cortez “Cuando Suenan Los Tambores.” They’re a group from Nicaragua where my family is from, and this song would always get played at all the house parties back in the day. It’s not in the best condition and I don’t know how rare it is, but it’s definitely a special one for me.
JQ: My most favorite record in the world is and has always been “Soul Makossa” by Manu Dibango. That song is what this whole thing is all about.
What should one expect when they attend the 10-year anniversary this Friday?
W: Probably my favorite part about Makossa, and this is true for all the cities we do it in, is the people. It’s a beautiful, open, and loving community. On Friday, expect great DJs, great drummers, great food, but especially great people. I think a lot of us could use some good energy and love right now. We’ll have plenty of that for you on Friday.