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House of Rhumba
New York City loves rhythm. It is fitting, then, that a spontaneous meeting on her beaches birthed the vibrant sounds of House of Rhumba. The three-man, Afro-Caribbean percussion ensemble fuses a deep soul sensibility with traditional Afro-Latin rhythms such as rumba, bomba, and plena to create a unique and dynamic sound which has invigorated dance music since its birth. Founded in New York City in 2000 by house music DJ “Papo Swing” (née Norberto Alicea) with percussionists Nicholas “Niko” Laboy and Obanilu Ire Allende Solana, House of Rhumba has distinguished itself as an innovative voice within the dance music scene, fusing a street rumba style with supple soul and electrifying beats. This versatility has earned House of Rhumba a central place among dance music aficionados and secured appearances on numerous dance hits, including: “Steel Congo” and “Summer Night in Spanish Harlem” tracks with Grammy winning DJ Louie Vega (released on Vega’s solo album “Elements of Life”); “Irinajo” with Soul Channel Music (Mr. V and Alix Alvarez); and "Confession" with Malena Perez, among others.
Papo Swing is a staple percussionist among highly regarded house DJs and performance groups, such as Cirque de Soleil, Louie Vega, Masters at Work (MAW), John Cutler, Soul Channel Music (Mr. V), Soul Creation, Alix Alvarez, Dennis Ferrer, Funk La Planet, and Alain Vinet, among others. He has performed at Club Cielo, Club Deep, Club Shelter, Ageha (Japan) and Club Show in NYC, as well as other internationally recognized dance clubs around the world. Inspired by famous conga players like Giovanni Hidalgo, Mongo Santa Maria, Carlos Patato Valdez, Kevin Jones, Pedro Martinez from Yerba Buena (Fun Machine), and Luisito Quintero whom he counts among his teachers. Papo Swing’s love for hard-hitting rhythm inspires his improvised conga beats and innovative technique within the Afro-Caribbean, Afro-Cuban, Rumba and ‘bomba and plena’ genres, making him a leading musician among his dance music peers and fans alike.
Niko is a current member of several notable Afro-Caribbean popular and sacred performance ensembles, including Puerto Rican roots band, Yerbabuena. Niko is also a founding member of Ilu- Aye, an Afro-Caribbean music collective dedicated to preserving the rich African musical influences in the Spanish-speaking Caribbean. Among his many noted contributions to these ensembles, is his superb ability to arrange and direct the groups, adding his own innovative touches and musical flavor. His talents have placed him among the most sought after young percussionists and stimulated the interest of numerous bands in including him in their recording projects. Among several bands and artists that he has collaborated with are: Latin Sensation directed by Jose Mangual Jr.; the internationally acclaimed dance music producer and DJ, Louie Vega (M.A.W Inc.) for whom he recorded the highly praised percussion on "Steel Congo"; Lou Gorbea; Ashe Productions; and Yerbabuena, on whose debut album he appears.