Defected’s latest House Masters edition centres on Harry Romero – but one close friend is nowhere to be seen…

Last year, you might recall Defected releasing a track by Harry Romero and Inaya Day called “Rise Up”. The consensus at Ears To The House HQ was the song was pretty dull – certainly not a patch on “Just Can’t Get Enough”, the result of a previous collaboration by the duo released in 1999. So why had Defected put this one out?

The answer appears to have finally emerged in the form of a House Masters compilation. To explain briefly, this was when Simon Dunmore used to get his cheque book out to pay to licence various tracks from various labels – and by the looks of it, Wez Saunders seems happy for this tradition to continue.

Romero’s edition is due out this Friday and has no less than 34 different tracks, including “I Go Back” with Robert Owens, “Hazin + Phazin” under his Choo-Choo Project alias, a pointless Jamie Jones edit of “Just Can’t Get Enough” and a lot of others. And we like most of what’s been picked here – but just as worthy of discussion is what hasn’t made the cut.

A long-time friend and musical collaborator of Harry Romero was none other than Erick Morillo. The two men met each other in the mid-90s and were both there in the early years of Subliminal Records. Indeed, the duo made several records together – such as the 2003 hit “Dancing” featuring Jessica Eve and Jose Nuñez.

Other examples include a track called “Make A Movie” with P Diddy in 2008, “Pa Ra Ra (Shake)” in 2011, a song called “Bang” in 2013 with a curiously named “Bang In Your Face Mix” and Morillo providing a dub mix for Romero’s 2004 hit “What Happened”. They also worked together as part of Da Mob, responsible for Subliminal’s first ever release, “Fun”.

But anyone taking a close look at the tracklisting for House Masters: Harry Romero would be hard pressed to find any mention of Morillo – only one of their collaborations appears on the compilation. That would be “Believe” by Jocelyn Brown and Ministers De-La-Funk – a huge hit from 2000 by Morillo, Romero and the aforementioned Jose Nuñez.

So to quote one of Romero’s tracks, what happened? Did Defected scrub out any reference to Morillo, in view of an allegation of rape made against him a few weeks before his death in September 2020? A source close to Defected told Ears To The House that “The Erick Morillo connection was always an awkward one, and Defected knew they risked a massive backlash if he was mentioned. But as far as I know, the issue never came up between Harry and the label when talking about this project. It was almost like they had an unspoken agreement on the topic.”.

Just don’t expect Romero to speak out about his now deceased friend. Whilst it’s unknown what he thought of the allegations made against Morillo – whereas we know DJ Pierre doesn’t believe them – the closeness of Morillo and Romero is a matter of public record. Because in September 2020, Romero spoke at Morillo’s funeral – which is available on YouTube for anyone to watch from the 63-minute mark.

In it, Romero says “Erick was the most generous person I’ve ever known” and “I consider him a big brother, music partner, mentor, but more importantly, a great friend”. And just like everyone else during a surreal service of almost two hours length, he failed to make any reference whatsoever to the charge of rape which he was facing…

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