Ozomatli

Street Signs (Concord Records)

It's hard to talk about Ozomatli without coming off like some chai-drinking, dashiki-wearing boho hipster. To wit: Street Signs' socially conscious, knock-you-on-your-ass party grooves are a blend of hip-hop, funk, Latin and Middle Eastern flavors that compel earnest white people like myself to use words such as "global block party." Set amid an inspired cameo from Latin jazz visionary Eddie Palmieri, Nusrat Fateh Ali Khan samples and wailing Santana-style guitar solos, the title track alone demonstrates the sheer force Ozomatli is capable of. Opening with a sweet salsa keyboard motif, the song builds on a sick syncopated rhythm, then modulates into a synthesized snare beat, then segues effortlessly into sparse, bass- and scratch-heavy old-school crunk. Still, the MCs rhyme, "There's more to this track than a kick and a snare." Damn straight. There are soaring vocals, fluid rhymes and a barrage of brass and percussion that manage to, despite all the ingredients, not sound like too many cooks in the kitchen. Now fetch me my dashiki.

 
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