Album Review: Santiago IS Quintessential Funk In “22 Somerset Drive”

Manufactured Recordings presents Santiago’s complete recordings for the first time ever. 22 Somerset Dr. (1976-1978) includes mostly unheard songs with a few released. rare 45s. Though Neftali Santiago’s solo career came to an end in 1978 when he rejoined Mandrill, he left a treasure chest of unreleased funk tracks that will excite fans of one of the most enlivening, cosmic music genres. 

Born in Spanish Harlem, Santiago is a self-proclaimed “army brat”, whom honed his skills as a musician in South New Jersey. As he watched his older brother practice with his own band, while his father went off to Vietnam, the young child grew fascinated by the folk sounds and groovy vibes sweeping through the nation’s youth. It was during the 60’s that psychedelics, experimentation, and music seemed tied together. In this music era, art was about spiritual possibilities, and, to make a sound, you had to use your heart and mind. Thus, 22 Somerset Dr, is the heart and mind of a musician whom is known for his musical backing/ support of artists like Snoop Dogg, Wyclef Jean, Public Enemy, Lauryn Hill, Eric Clapton, Parliament Funkadelic. George Harrison, James Brown, Deep Purple, and many MANY more.  Therefore, the album is like a “meet and greet” with an artist that could shine like a front-man even from the back.   
Santiago was apart of one of the most diverse, boundary- pushing funk bands, Mandrill. As a drummer and vocalist for the band, he was lead crafter of their sound, but for a time he went off to explore his own, essential music style. The result is 22 Somerset Dr. which is a compilation not just of Santiago’s work for himself, but feels like a grand homage to the funk genre. Santiago’s funkadelic beats are like syncopated supernovas.  Saxophones, drums, and keys blare to their fullest instrumental possibilities, which, of course, Santiago’s self-explorative sound would ignite. He was/ is an artist that loves to see music, itself. reach it fullest, soulful potential. Thus, his songs explode unto your mind and induce the imagination- altering effects that Funk is known for.  Overall, Santiago’s lyrics and sound are exuberant, playful, and all about feeling good. In 11 tracks, you feel transported to the 70’s rich, glamorous parties that were dedicated to living in the present as if tomorrow had no choices or consequences to bring. 
There is not too much that can be said for 22 Somerset Dr. beyond Santiago’s prestigious, prosperous career. The man used  his life to help others find their voice, which makes 22 Somerset Dr a fascinating, sonic look into the 2 years he decided to seek his own. The result is magnetic and a must own for Funk fans everywhere. Click Here To Buy 22 Somerset Dr. and learn more about Santiago.