Once upon a time, you couldn't walk down certain lower Manhattan blocks without tripping over sidewalk vendors' card tables loaded with cassettes. Sometimes, they'd be bootleg concert tapes, but a lot of the time, they were the latest hip-hop mixtapes. And in the golden age of that form, no one dominated the game like Tony Touch. The Boricua DJ was born Joseph Anthony Hernandez and raised in Brooklyn; he started cranking out the tapes around 1991. Besides showcasing his technical skills, Tony "Toca" got the hot shit for his tapes — new beats, unreleased tracks, exclusive freestyles, the works. Later, as the tape itself became an endangered species, he moved into production, collaborating with MCs such as Kool G Rap and M.O.P. He also manned the wheels of steel during live performances by the likes of Guru and Terror Squad. In the '00s, Touch began focusing more on reggaeton. His last studio album, ReggaeTony 2, was released in 2007. Still, his party-rocking sets run the gamut of urban dance sounds, from R&B to hip-hop, reggae, and house. His appearance this Thursday at the Vagabond helps mark the club's informal one-year anniversary and Touch's second gig at the club since March.
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