Wednesday, April 16, 2008

Ozomatli - After Party

Multiculti Los Angeles-based 10-piece Ozomatli is more than the sum of their parts: hip-hop, salsa, and funk crash head-on in this surprisingly natural collaboration. Their self-titled debut makes Ozomatli sound like one of the world's great live shows--a party band with a brain--and they pull it off deftly. Rapper Chali 2na ("Charlie Tuna," get it?) has an authoritative voice and a way with words, mixing references from Edie Brickell to Ed McMahon; just he and the Cut Chemist (both of Jurassic 5), who lends his turntable skills to the proceedings, would make for an entertaining album. But it's the way that the two--when they're even featured--build on and blend into the grooves of the wah-pedal-and-brass-section-powered ensemble that sets Ozomatli apart. Danceable and engaging, they've made a promising debut.
Ozomatli's 11 multihued Angelenos bring the notion to life. Drawing on Cali tradition of Latin-funk big bands like Malo, Azteca, and War ... Ozo combine Chicano protest ethos, the unstoppable power of ska, and, with the lab-wrecking virtuosity of DJ Cut Chemist, leading-edge hip hop.

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