South Bronx

Arts & Entertainment

Pete Rodriguez Glad You Still 'Like It Like That' 50 Years After Hit Song

March 8, 2017 8:41am | Updated March 8, 2017 8:41am
Pete Rodriguez
View Full Caption

THE BRONX — Pete Rodriguez still likes "I Like It Like That" just as much as everyone else.

The famed musician first recorded the boogaloo hit roughly 50 years ago in 1967, and versions of the song have continually popped up since then in places ranging from Yankee Stadium to the soundtrack of the 1994 movie also called "I Like It Like That" to a commercial for Brookside Chocolate.

Rodriguez, who is now 81 years old and living in southern New Jersey, said he is thrilled that the song has managed to stay popular after so many years.

"I feel great about it," he said. "I still dance to it when I hear it on the radio and in commercials."

Rodriguez was born in Manhattan but moved to The Bronx at a young age, where he grew up on Simpson Street.

He described the heyday of boogaloo in the borough as an exciting era, despite some tension between the boogaloo groups and the big bands who were worried about boogaloo musicians taking work away from them.

"It was a great time, you know? It was a free dance, a free-for-all dance that anybody can do," he said, "and the music was pretty catchy."

Rodriguez made his own biggest contribution to boogaloo in 1967 with the recording of "I Like It Like That," which he said came together thanks to the input of several different musicians rather than just one arranger.

"We just got in the studio, and we were just goofing around, and I came up with the intro, and somebody else came in and said 'Let’s do this' and 'Let’s do that,'" he said, "and finally we got the whole thing. But it was a combined effort by everybody."

"I Like It Like That" was consciously recorded with its lyrics in English, as the band was trying to use the song to make more headway into the American radio market.

Although Rodriguez maintains that such radio stations didn't fully dive into Latin music until Gloria Estefan took off in the 1980s, he maintains that "I Like It Like That" helped break through as well.

"We were trying to get into that market also," he said, "and we did it a little bit."

The song's pairing of English lyrics with a Latin beat has also contributed to its staying power over the years, according to Rodriguez, as this combination enabled it to be more appealing to a wider audience.

Rodriguez does not perform or record very often anymore and has spent the past few months recovering from a recent surgery to replace both of his knees.

However, he still tries to go to shows if they interest him and would be good for boogaloo, such as a performance he gave in May of 2015 at the Hostos Center for the Arts and Culture.

"That show turned out good. Quite a response to it, to the boogaloo, you know?" he said. "It’s amazing. After so many years, now it’s coming to light again."

He tries to keep up with the current music scene in The Bronx, which is much more focused on hip-hop than on boogaloo, but says it is harder to do so now that he no longer lives in the borough.

"I’m about an hour away, and I don’t get in there that much," he said, "but I try to listen to the radio and catch a lot."

He said he is extremely happy that "I Like It Like That" is still part of this music scene so many decades after he first recorded it.

"I’m glad that 'I Like It Like That' is still interesting the people of New York," he said, "and The Bronx especially."