Known (and often derided) for his occupation as remixer to the stars during the 1990s,
was one of the pioneers of house music in New York, an original head from the 1970s who weathered the change-over from disco to house and teamed up with
to form the leading early remix team, Def Mix. During the '90s the dance mainstream became aligned to many of his stylistic trademarks -- vocal breaks, uptempo piano riffs, plenty of strings -- resulting in clichés attributed to both of them. Also,
found a dancefloor hit with the 1994 single "In De Ghetto."
His beginnings were certainly not so refined; born in Brooklyn to Puerto Rican immigrants, Morales
lived his early life in quite a rough section of the Brooklyn projects and was once shot while growing up. He dropped out of high school after ninth grade, and worked as a cook while supplementing his meager living with a job as a DJ (he had been collecting records since the age of 14). Turned on to disco at crucial clubs like the Loft and the Paradise Garage, Morales
was soon working at the Garage as well after hooking up with For the Record, an early DJ management firms. His reputation spread during the late '70s and early '80s until he had DJed at every major club in the New York area. One of the first underground house hits in the New York area, "Do It Properly" (by 2 Puerto Ricans, a Black Man and a Dominican
) was a production helmed by Morales
, with Chep Nunez
, Robert Clivilles
and David Cole
. Moving on to remix and production work during the '80s, he hooked up with another major house legend, Frankie Knuckles
(through For the Record) to form the Def Mix Productions crew, and his Red Zone remixes became known as important sign-posts in the developing progressive house movement.
Increasingly though, as dance music began appealing to a wider clientele, Morales'
mixes attuned themselves more to the mainstream of dance and his material often garnered airplay on daytime radio as well as in nightclubs. After making his name in the pop charts with an early Def Mix for Seal
, he began working with a role call of the era's major pop stars: Mariah Carey
, Michael Jackson
, Janet Jackson
, Tina Turner
, among them. A major-label contract with Mercury resulted in the 1994 single "In De Ghetto," a reasonable club hit, and Morales'
debut album, The Program
. He's also a top-flight DJ, known for pushing a sound much harder than that found on his own remixes.