Star-Bulletin Features

Friday, September 14, 2001

Ozomatli's CD titled "Embrace the Chaos" has added
meaning after Tuesday's terrorism in New York City.

Ozomatli urges
peace from ‘Chaos’

"Embrace the Chaos"

Review by Gary C.W. Chun

The 911 went out this past Tuesday. Unfortunately, in the cruelest of ironies, it was for the unimaginable tragedy that happened, instead of the anticipated new release from a band whose multicultural makeup represent the best this country can offer. They're positive, talented, young L.A. musicians of black, Chicano, Cuban, Japanese, Jewish and Filipino ethnicity. Concertgoers, including those fortunate enough to have seen them at the then-Row Bar debut here a while back, know these guys can royally rock the house with their multi-culti block party vibe, freely mixing up hip-hop, Latin and Mexican grooves.

"Embrace the Chaos" has now taken on an added meaning. What was originally a reference to Ozomatli's street rally, cut short by police in riot gear during last year's Democratic Party convention, now embraces the chaos that ensued following Tuesday's terrorist attacks on New York City and Washington, D.C.

"Only through chaos will we ever see change," guest rapper Common intones on the title track, a somber hip-hop number with a chilling minor horn line. A jazz interlude appropriately titled "Pensativo" follows, leading to one of several joyous numbers recorded live in the studio, a bit of Cubano heat called "Timido."

While this sophomore effort isn't as immediately appealing as their debut, songs like those mentioned do show Ozomatli's growth musically. And like the Aztec god of dance the group is named after, Ozomatli are masters of the beat. "1234" is an effective combo of the band's West Coast hip-hop groove with guest rappers from the East, De La Soul. "Dos Cosas Ciertas" cannily brings together the swing of salsa with the busy rhythms of jungle. "Lo Que Dice" pumps up that familiar East L.A. beat bounce, and "Mi Alma" is full-tilt Mexican pachanga.

"Sueños en Realidad" ends the album on an upbeat note of solidarity, the seeming chaos of people coming together from different cultures and ethnicities as a celebratory event, recognizing their common humanity.

But we'll let band member Asdrubal Sierra have the last word. In a message board posting two days ago on the group's Web site, he wrote, in light of what happened Tuesday, that "we must continue our struggle to prevent more situations of injustice around the world, because if we don't, things like this will just keep on coming. No country is too far, too foreign, too difficult to be impossible to come to an understanding. Things like hate, greed, power, money, among others, will only prevent us from coming to peace.

"Let us ALL be the positivity in this struggle against ALL injustice, ALL inhumanity, ALL oppression (and) '... to live in a world where all worlds can live.'"

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