by Gabe Schlesinger, Staff Writer
With today's fascination with rap, it is sometimes surprising that other groups and musical styles can break through to fame. Ozomatli is on of those groups. These ten men released a new album, their fourth, called Street Signs on June 22, 2004. It features a mix of Latin rhythm and rap beats, to truly capture any audience.
The group includes as its standard members Wil-Dog on Electric Bass / Baby Bass / Vocals, Uli on Saxophone /Clarinet / Keyboards / Requinto Jarocho (a four stringed guitar)/ Background Vocals, Shef on Trombone/ vocals, DJ Spinobi on the turntables, Mario Calire on drums, Raul Pacheco on Guitar/ Sotto Voice, Justin "Niño" Porée on Percussion, Asdru on Trumpet/ Lead Vocals, Jabu on Vocals, and finally Jiro Yamaguchi on Percussion. Some may recognize some of these names from other bands; for example, Mario backed up Freestyle Fellowship and Wil-Dog has played with names like Immolator, Macy Gray, and Mesh of Minds.
On Street Signs, Ozomatli plays thirteen songs. Believe is an "intro" song with mixed Spanish and English, featuring the Moroccan master, Hassan Hakmoun. Love and Hope is a heartfelt song about a child with a bad life who never gives up hope. Street Signs is the first rap track, and namesake of the album. It is on the lighter side as far as rap goes but still pleases. (Who Discovered) America? is an enchanting love song full of symbolism, comparing a virgin America to a beautiful woman. Then comes Who’s to Blame where Chali 2na adds his own style of voice to the rap beat of this incredible song. Te Estoy Buscando is the first full Spanish track, with a beat that will stick in your mind for a long time. Saturday Night is another rap song and the first on the album with a political base. Then comes Dejame en Paz: an entertaining song with stereotypical Mexican drumbeat and yelling that leads to a quite rememberable track. Santiago, the next track, has a soft tune and a great theme of the group's opinion of Santiago, CA. Ya Viene el Sol – the Beatle Bob Remix starts out in a concert setting with a catchy chorus. The Doña Isabelle jazz melody comes next. After that, Nadie Te Tire arrives with Eddie Palmieri on piano. Bringing up the rear is Cuando Canto, a truly beautiful melody with great lyrics.
As a rule, I don’t like rap, but this album has truly captured me in spite of this. It has the perfect mix of Latin rhythm and rap to make it an incredible album. Just listening to it, however, you miss something unless you have a translator handy.