I remember when I was in high school I came into this phase where I went crazy looking for music that would cause my ears to explode with happiness and was a little different. At the time I was barely getting into the alternative rock and listening to a ton of Spanish rock so I was looking for something similar but when I came across Ozomatli I was completely blown away. I came across one of their songs when I was in high school and I was intrigued by their sound which incorporated different musical influences from different Latino cultures. They were something new and different for me because I was use to listening to the top hits on radio (whether it was in English or Spanish radio) and pop music. The more I listened to them the more I began to love their music but it isn’t until recently that I’ve really come to love their music and the band itself.
Ozomatli is a band that was formed in Los Angeles over 15 years ago that has a multitude of Latino influences in their music. One of the key characteristics of this band, that I adore, is that they are an extremely socially conscious band that writes it music for the people and their struggles. When I looked more into their history I was pleasant surprised to find out that they came together because they were looking to have their voices heard during the labor protests that were occurring in Los Angeles at the time of their inception. The sound they created was a combination of urban hip hop, merengue, salsa, cumbia, funk, r&b, raga, etc. it was an explosion of sound that is not often heard in music and it was created for the soul purpose of giving people a voice.
Its current members are made up of Wil-dog Abers, Asdrubal Sierra, Jiro Yamaguchi, Justin Poree, Mario Calire, Raul Pacheco, and Ulises Bella. Each member brings a diverse element to Ozomatli that makes their music unique and wonderful. One of greatest aspects of this group is how uplifting and thought provoking their music can be. I admit I’m a sucker for a band that can play with my emotions and have beautiful lyrics but if they can make me want to dance as well…. they’re definitely winner in my book. For anyone starting with Ozomatli I recommend you start with their self-titled album Ozomatli (1998) and give a listen to their track for “Cut Chemist Suite” and “Cumbia De Los Muertos”. Another great album to give a listen to is Street Signs(2004) their most well-known track is “Saturday Night” and “(Who discovered) America?”.
One of the most admirable aspects of this band is their willingness and their constant involvement with different organizations across the U.S. and the world. They have traveled to places such as Nepal, India, Jordan, Vietnam, Thailand, and other countries to give free concerts, provide free classes, promote music education, and help several charities. Perhaps I’m speaking too fondly of them but I can’t help but admire them for being a group of musicians who want to help others and conveying a message to us about being proactive within our communities.
I leave you with a little taste of Ozomatli hopefully you all enjoy them as much if not more than I did.