Neftali Santiago (aka) Funkadrill 1969-2004
Neftali Felix Santiago was named after his father. The name Neftali means, "child set free."
Neftali was born in the Spanish Harlem in New York City.  His father is Puerto Rican, and his mother is Afro-American, Black Foot Indian, and Scottish mix; better known as, “Mulatto”. Neftali senior was a Sergeant and Green Beret in the army. He drove for General Patton in World War II.  The family traveled a great deal.  The Santiago's lived in Germany for five years, as well as Kentucky, Georgia, New Jersey, and New York in the states. Junior grew up beating on pots and pans until the age of fifteen when his brother bought him his first drum set.  Brother Chris came home one day with the drums and told Nefty Jr., “Learn how to play these because my drummer quit the band and I need you to replace him for a party next week.” Neftali’s been hooked on drums and making music ever since.  

Currently Neftali is preaching the good news of Jesus Christ to teens. He takes from his own life experiences in the music business to teach the dangers of  Fencewalking  Christianity, Satan's executed plan to dominate the airwaves, and how to put on the full armor of God and protect yourselves from this attack.                                 

Wyclef (2002):


"You Say Keep It Gangsta"
Written by:
Wyclef Jean, Jerry Wonder, Neftali Santiago

Butch Cassidy and Sharissa

Snoop Dogg (1998):
 "Pay For P...


Snoop sampled Neftali's, "Summer Of 70" on his"Pay For P..." song.
You will not see Neftali's name on the credits, but Snoop made up for it in royalties from the song for leaving out Neftali's name as music producer and writer. The album sold over two million copies.

Santa Fe Road (1996):

Marino, (vocalist/artist) put together an all star band for his first solo Lp.
 Neftali Santiago-drums, Angel Figuroa-percussion, PeeWee Hill- bass, Kris Kello-keys, vocals, Conley Abrams-keyboards, Val McCallum-guitar, Charles Green-sax, Karen Briggs-violin, Donna Simon, Valentino, & Kimberly Abrams-vocals.

Acid Jazz (1994):
The Acid Jazz label contracted Neftali to perform on their entire stable of artists. The company folded before releasing four great CD's; sad but true.

Public Enemy (1992):

Public Enemy sampled "Two Sisters Of Mystery" on By The Time I Get To Arizona. The song created a lot of media attention.

The song dealt with Martin Luther Kings' birthday not being celebrated in the state of Arizona. It went on to become a platinum seller and spurred a media field day.  The song sold over one million copies.

Tony Hawk's Pro Skater 4 :

 In 2003 Activision released "Tony Hawlk 4" video game which features "By The Time I Get To Arizona".


Neftali composed music for commercials:

Pac Bell
Burger King
7-11, Big Bite
Sunkist soda television spot
Rogers Clothes

Sound Barrier (1980) "Total Control" lp:
Sound Barrier was the first black heavy metal band to be signed to a major label. The label was MCA Records. Neftali produced a four-song demo on the band which landed the deal. The demo was a blend of funk, rock, and new wave; but when they got to MCA the music was turned to heavy metal. The band asked Neftali to use a song he wrote entitled:  Rock On The Wild Side. It was used for their first single and video. The album led to a major tour opening for the rock group Van Halen. Spacey T, the original guitar player for the band, is now with "Fishbone."

Neftali's Beast" (1980)

Land of the Drums

Barbara,   Neftali,   Damon     Neftali's Beast "El Super Disco Show" LA 1980.

Beast was an extension of the Santiago Band. The band actually broke-up before sighing with Capital. Neftali put family members signatures on the contract to sell the record.

Neftali-drums, keyboards, percussion, bass, animal machine, and vocals, Damon Van Buren-guitar, and Erma Kaye -vocals were the only musicians on tape.

The single was "Land of the Drums". It was a unique blend of natural animal sounds put to rhythm, and a driving dance percussive beat. Neftali was the first to sample sounds before samplers were invented. Luis and Barbara Marvin, long time friends of Neftali, taught him how to replace the string and flute sounds on a Melotron with animal sounds, and play the sounds in rhythm. The single sold many records in Holland only.  The U.S. wasn't ready for the innovation or artform.

Santiago The Band 1976

This was the first and only  single from Santiago, the band. It was released regionally in Philly and Washington, DC.

Santiago band toured with the Ohio Players and Gill Scott Heron. Joining Neftali was, Joe Byrne, Rocky and Eddie Duarte.

Feelin Good

Rocky, Joe, Neftali, Eddie

US (1974)
The group, formally known as "The Ghetto Fighters" performed background vocals on Jimi Hendrix's lps Cry of Love, Rainbow Bridge, and War Heroes. Neftali performed on their Polydor single, Ostrich and their lp "Prana People." The twins are now known as the  Aleems: Taharqa and Tunde Ra  Aleem.

The Chitin circuit 1969:
In the early 70's young Neftali backed soul acts such as: The Manhattans, Emotions, Intruders, Barbara Mason, The Delfonics, etc. The acts toured what was called the “Chitin circuit.” Neftali would back the acts when they came to Philadelphia where  one band played for all the acts.

The Soul Sets:
Soul Review featured a James Brown and Marvin Gaye impersonator.  Larry Gittens from "Stevie Wonders band, and Cool & the Gang" also came out of this group. Neftali would perform at night and go to high school in the daytime.

The Reeves (1969):
Ted Mac Amateur Hour (1969)
Neftali put his first band together. He named it The Reeves after Superman. They were a 7 piece band including 3 horns, a bass, a guitar, drums, and keyboards. The band was managed by Dolores Santiago, Neftali's mom. They rehearsed at the Santiago'sin order to prepare for gigs around town, and in near by teen clubs. Dolores set up an audition with the tv show Ted Mac. For those who don recognize Ted Mac, he was the (OG) Ed Mc Mann of Star Search.

We had to drive from South Jersey to New York City to appear on the show. Our Van broke dow on the first attempt, and we had to reschedual.
Mandrill Years 1972 thru 2005
Neftali:  If I were to be factual about Mandrills participation in influencing up-and-coming artists still to this day. Mandrill music is hypnotic and draws you in to be mesmerized by the rhythm of the music. The music gives you energy unlike any other group. "There has never been another group out there that can even come close to all the musical places Mandrill goes in a set.
It's an honor to be apart of the Mandrill team of players".

The band's Polydor years with the Composite Truth lineup of talent became the best of the best sellers to date of Mandrill lps sold. The beat on "Fencewalk" would become Neftali's signature piece. Harvey Mason jokes about stealing the Fencewalk beat and using it on Herbie’s “Chameleon”. His brother Kenny played trumpet with Mandrill in 1978, and Harvey came out to the Roxy, and joked around with Neftali about the beat.

Mandrill's variety and ability to perform all styles of music within their set put them in a class all by themselves. See The Mandrill Years contained within this web sight.

Hip Hop Groups Sampling Mandrill:

Mandrill: (Polydor)
* "Peace and Love"
Kanye West "Two Words"
Mandrill Is: (Polydor)
* "Lord of the Golden Baboon
EPMD's "Rampage" (Intro)
Black Eyed Peas

* "Childern Of The Sun"
Jin The MC "Hold On"
Composite Truth: (Polydor)
 * "Don't Mess with People"
Boo-Yaa-Tribe's "Don't Mess"
DITC's "Get Yours"
Yo-Yo's "Dope Femininity"

* "Fencewalk"
Cypress Hill's "The Phuncky Cypress Hill"
De La Soul and Da Beatminerz' "The Hustle"
Ice Cube's "Jimmy Hatz Commercial"
Public Enemy's "Bedlam 13:13"
Schooly D's "King of New York"
Ultramagnetic MC's "Stop Jockin Me"
Just Outside of Town: (Polydor)
* "Love Song"
Naz "Lost Tapes"
Flowatry "Have Faith"

* "Mango Meat"
Jungle Brothers' "Straight out the Jungle"
Mic Geronimo ft DMX, Fatal, Cormega & Ja's
"The Usual Suspects" (Interpolation)
Minister Amer's, "RCA"

* "Two Sisters of Mystery" written by Neftali Santiago
Wyclef Jean "You Say Keep It Gangsta"
Public Enemy's "By the Time I Get to Arizona"
 Renegade Soundwave's "Blue Eyed Boy"
Shiner Massive "High"

* "Fat City Strut"
Eric B & Rakim's "Beats for the Listeners"
Jaz's "Jaz O"
Schooly D's "Am I Black Enough"
Avalanches' "Radio"
Mandrilland: (Polydor)
* "After the Race"
Smif & Wesson's "Get it On" (Guitar)
Dynas's "Urbanomics"
Quasimoto's "Green Power"
We Are One: (Arista)
* "Gilly Hines"
Brandy/ Kanye West "Talk About Our Love"
* "Holiday"
Kindred "If I"

 Neftali has been blessed to perform or share the stage  with:
George Harrison  
Ringo Starr
Eric Clapton
George Michael
Lauryn Hill
Black Eyed Peas
Dead Prez
The Eagles
Alman Brothers
Sly & the Family Stone
Baaba Maull
 Earth Wind & Fire
Buddy Miles
Stevie Wonder
 Duke Ellington
 Deep Purple  
Savoy Brown
 Status Quo
 Canned Heat   
Little River Band  
Jim Croche
 La Belle  
Isley Brothers
 Jackson 5  
James Brown
Rare Earth  
Doctor Hook
 Blood Stone
Average White Band
Graham Central Station
Betty Davis Band
Barbara Mason
Isaac Hayes
Bette Midler  
Andy Coffman  
Ohio Players
Kool & The Gang
Seals & Croft
Bobby Wolmack
US / Prana  
Donald Bird & The Blackbirds  
Soul Searchers  
Eddie Kendrix  
Gill Scott Heron  
Atlantic Star
Ike & Tina Turner
Doctor John  
Mike Broomfield
 Red Bone  
Millie Jackson
Main Ingredient
 New Birth
 Ghetto Fighters  
Chambers Brothers  
Michael Henderson  
Sante Fe
Lazado Galarraga's
LA Latin All Stars
Edwin Hawkins
George Benson
Ronnie Laws
The New World Orchestra
Godspell Orchestra LA cast
Arturo Sandoval
Take Six
Inner Circle
Kenny Lattimore
Xandro & Su Punto
Prophet Jones
Jay Lozado
Marc Antoine
Charlie Haden
Ike Turner and the Kings Of Rhythm

Film History

Neftali started composing for film in the 1990's. For the most part, cable release films are shown constantly all over the world.

Neftali is grateful to have touched that side of his creativity and plans to do more in the upcoming years. Leading his film efforts are:

The Warriors
LA Crackdown part one and two
East L.A. Warriors
Fire Power
Ring Of Fire
Private Wars
Two Be The Best
Direct Hit

Direct Hit 1994:
Neftali:  Scoring Direct Hit was a bit difficult for me. I was given ten days to score sixty minutes of music for the film.

A messenger would literally stand around and wait for the next reel of scored film. The picture went into overtime shooting. What happens when they go over is the film composer gets his time with the film cut short in order to meet the company's deadline.

Talk about pressure; it was definitely on! I didn't want to crank out a generic sound track like all the other C movie composers, but I know now why they do it.

I was on pins and needles the whole time trying to fight the generic approach. I can laugh about it know; but then... WOW!

Well, I finished the score and waited for the verdict on my first completed film. I was getting all the indications that the score was unliked by the production staff.

 It was during the directors and producers film  screening  that I got my verdict.  It was a thumbs-up. "We love the sound track."

Direct Hit, to this day, is seen in most parts of the world on cable stations.