Local Wire

Ozomatli

Ozomatli play the type of music one would expect from a band that takes its name from the Nahuatl word for an Aztec astrological sign. Their mix of Latin, hip-hop, funk, rock, jazz, and reggae comes from a group that stretches from seven to 10 members, playing both traditional rock instruments and a few novelties (trumpet, saxophone, turntables). They even throw in a little cajón — an Afro-Peruvian staple that's a plywood drawer played as a drum. Never shying away from making a political statement, the members of Ozomatli actually met while picketing at a Los Angeles-area strike. Though their music has unmistakable protest sentiments, it is still a celebration of Latin culture and its vibrant sound — a beautiful marriage of Latin funk and hip-hop. It's a far cry from so many bands that inundate today's airwaves, and it would be unfair even to try to measure anyone else against Ozomatli's eclectic sound. Why bother? It's infinitely more fun just to revel in their funky rock and reggae rhythms splayed under hip-hop (and often Spanish) vocals.
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Michael Lopez