Our ears are satellites receiving radio signals—transporting us to diﬀerent places, times and emotions. Music is the transmission speaking to us in a language we can all understand, each of us translating it in our own way—recalling and spawning memories of people, events and worlds we were, and are a part of. Barritz’ musical palette is a profusion of eras, genres and styles that inﬂuence him to this day.
It began as a young child listening to radio stations in his mom’s car on the way to school, the speakers playing 70’s and 80’s music and popular songs of the day, many of which would become the samples of hip-hop he later fell in love with. “I remember those drives from home to school, my mom not saying a word, just focused on her driving,” Barritz recalls, “the music was so well produced sonically, the production was simple, the soundstage was wide, and it always stuck with me.” Artists like Michael Jackson, Stevie Wonder, Fleetwood Mac, Hall & Oates, the Eagles, Earth, Wind & Fire, Madonna, Prince and others dominated the radio waves. These classic artists laid the foundation for the soundtrack of music forever playing in Barritz’ mind.
“The ﬁrst concert I remember attending was Kool & The Gang at the Santa Clara County Fairgrounds when I was like 12 years old,” Barritz says as he digs into his memory banks. Adolescence was around the corner and along with it came an ever-expanding journey into live music, albums, cassettes and CDs—not to mention the craze that came along with getting your hands on the music when it was released in record stores and buying tickets to concerts once they went on sale.
In an era where music could only be heard on the radio, in your car, or in person; the powers that be dictated what you heard and how you heard it. It wasn’t until hip-hop really hit the mainstream that music began to rebel against the establishment. Artists like Too $hort and E-40 sold tapes out of their cars and a new form of music distribution was born, the indie hustle.
“Too $hort was the ﬁrst hip-hop artist I was really jamming to heavily. I’d say The Cadillac Man is really in the same vein as his catalog of music. I would hound the radio waiting to record songs like Life Is… Too Short and The Ghetto to get them on a tape. His funk samples really turned me on to that genre and I became obsessed with artists like Parliament-Funkadelic, Ohio Players, Bootsy Collins, The Gap Band, Sly & The Family Stone, Cameo, Con Funk Shun and so on,” shares Barritz.
The easiest way to get the music that you wanted was to buy it in store, copy someone’s cassette or CD to a tape, or to sit next to the radio and wait to record the song you wanted when it played live on the air. These were the original mixtapes. CDs were slowly phasing out the cassette and new forms of technology allowed people to rip and burn CDs—giving birth to a new kind of mixtape in the form of the CD-R. This was also the time of Napster, Limewire and Kazaa, which opened the door to the download and streaming era.
Barritz collected every piece of music he could get his hands on—from borrowing his friends CDs to rip them to his computer, to searching through his parents’ collection to revisit the music he listened to in his childhood years. All the while he bought CDs every Tuesday on release days and attended as many concerts as he could aﬀord.
“Tuesday was my favorite day of the week,” Barritz remembers, “I would go to The Wherehouse like clockwork and pick up the latest tapes and CDs. I knew the manager at my local Wherehouse in Milpitas, Maria, and she would save me the promo items the record label reps would leave with the new releases. She hooked me up with some amazing promo over the years like posters, keychains and more.” Promotional campaigns in the music industry were huge in the 90’s, with only limited outlets distributing music. You had local radio and their street teams pushing music through the airwaves and in person. You had television channels like MTV, BET, The Box, and in the Bay Area; the California Music Channel (CMC). The word got out only if you were in the know and dedicated yourself to your love of the music.
“Midnight releases were the thing at the time in the music industry. I remember November 23, 1993. A few of my friends and I camped outside of The Wherehouse in my boy Jay’s VW Bug and waited for the clock to strike midnight to pick up Snoop Dogg’s Doggystyle. We always wanted to be the ﬁrst ones to have the newest music to discuss and share it with our friends in high school,” Barritz recollects.
In the Bay Area, The Wherehouse, Sam Goody, Camelot Music, Star Records, T’s Wauzi and many other record stores were also the locations where you would score your tickets to concerts. Ticketmaster and BASS Tickets were the places to pick out your seats to live events, and these record stores were some of the only places to purchase tickets except at the box oﬃces of the venues where the events were to be held.
Barritz remembers buying tickets to the must-see events of the times, “I got tickets to Bob Marley Day in Oakland which took place at the Henry J. Kaiser Arena and got to see Steel Pulse and Inner Circle; so many KMEL Summer Jams at the Shoreline which were some of the greatest concerts ever. I got to see so many classic and timeless hip-hop artists it was amazing… Ice Cube, Pharcyde, Run-DMC, Onyx, Roger & Zapp, Total Devastation, Rodney O & Joe Cooley, Public Enemy, E-40, Rappin’ 4-Tay, Outkast, Naughty by Nature, Biggie, Tha Luniz, Warren G and so many more. Plus the great R&B talent that was lined up like Jodeci, Shai, Hi-Five, Mary J. Blige, Tony Toni Toné, Tevin Campbell, Blackstreet and others.”
Barritz has never stopped attending live music and shows—from the local artists performing at hole-in-the-wall bars to larger arena events such as the Up In Smoke Tour, Rock The Bells, the 25th Anniversary of Doggystyle and more. He said as we wrapped up, “I’ve attended so many live musical events over the years that I can’t even name them all, but the performances were incredible and those are the moments that are remembered forever.”
Music is a creation that resides between our ears and live concerts add the visual element to it in the same way a music video does—but the energy generated in a giant auditorium or arena is a once-in-a-lifetime experience for those lucky enough to be in attendance. As you can tell Barritz is just as much a fan of the music as a creator of it.
Visit Barritz’ oﬃcial site to connect and ﬁnd his social media links. You can hear his music on all streaming platforms.