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Friday, August 19, 2011

Around The Way - Smooth Is The Way (1993)

Thanks to the always helpful Robert, another release from my wantlist has been satisfied!! Thanks Robert! This is yet another album I only had on cassette and was curious to hear again. There isn't much info on the history of Around The Way before or after their formation. The members of the group were singer Ileana "Lena" Fraticelli, singer Kashu "Kash" Myles (aka Cashew Miles) and rapper Michael Anthony Bertot. Ileana had previously been part of the freestyle trio Solid, who released one single, "Loving You", in 1988. Kashu had been part of the ska group The Toasters as lead vocalist for a couple of albums. Somehow the three got together in New York and hooked up with a bunch of freestyle music's heaviest hitters, including Tony Moran (previously of freestyle group The Latin Rascals), Kenny Diaz, Little Louie Vega and Frankie Cutlass, all of whom produced tracks on their album. It seems they were involved in the same scene as rapper K7 (formerly known as Kayel from freestyle group TKA), who'd had great success with his single "Come Baby Come" (and which Kashu did backing vocals on). Kayel was a hip hop artist who had strong roots in freestyle music, and Around The Way were likely eager to capitalize on his success by mining similar territory. They were an R&B/hip hop group consisting of primarily freestyle artists and producers. It wasn't a huge stretch, as freestyle had strong elements of hip hop, thus its often being coined as 'Latin hip-hop'. Around The Way were far from freestyle, however, and were more new jack swing, though with a far poppier element than most of their contemporaries in the genre. They signed a deal with Atlantic Records and their first single, "Really Into You", managed to hit #89 on the Billboard Hot 100. Their second single, "Way Back When", failed to chart, and it seems likely they were dropped by Atlantic due to their lack of mass success. Since then Ileana has done backing vocals, Michael has written and guested on some freestyle tracks (check out his Youtube channel), and Kashu has had some acting gigs. Their current activities are unknown. Though I have spent some time searching, unfortunately I don't have hours to scour the internet to find out any more details on their current goings on, so as always, if anyone knows anything, please let us know!

Download Smooth Is The Way

Really Into You
Groove Me
Let It Be You
Check One, Check Two
Way Back When
Smooth Is The Way
The Truth
Give It Up


  1. I loved this record too. I wish they had a bit more success. Really Into You is a great track.

    1. What ever happen to Lena Fraticelli? She had a great voice but poor management in putting her out with the other Top Freestyle singers.

  2. I too have been trying to track down Ileana Fraticelli. IMHO, Solid's "Loving You" was one of the very few, if not the best, Latin freestyle sings ever produced. It embodies the perfect style musically and lyrically of the real electronic freestyle. I would really like to know what ever happened to her.