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Ozomatli with Chali 2na

Ozomatli with Chali 2na

Ozomatli with Chali 2na

Ozomatli
Since its inception in 1995, innovation and creativity have defined Ozomatli. Hailing from Los Angeles, the group found a way to represent the city's eclectic culture through music that appeals to the local community and the world beyond. Ozomatli's success is exemplified in an impressive variety of genres from classic to modern Latino, urban, hip-hop and other world styles. The "Dioses del Baile," or "Gods of Dance," have created one of the most exciting, captivating and flat-out fun live shows touring today. They continue to harness their musical instincts by conceiving new concepts and forging new sounds that keep fans on their toes and the world dancing.

The latest recording is an album of classic Mexican hits reimagined with a reggae feel. Titled Non-Stop: Los Angeles ? Mexico ? Kingston, it pays homage to the band's Latin roots, allowing them to personalize songs that defined their youth and in turn, become part of Latin and Pop music lore. Produced by drum & bass reggae legends, Sly & Robbie (Bob Dylan, The Rolling Stones, Peter Tosh, Jimmy Cliff, Madonna, No Doubt) and featuring various high profile guest vocalists, the album recreates the magic of classic Latin hits with a reggae dancehall vibe that only Ozomatli could make feel as natural as waves rolling in the Caribbean sands.

The album was born from the group's desire to pay tribute to the Mexican styles that influenced their youth. Originally conceived as a tribute to mariachi and Norteño, the band decided to expand the concept and include old and new artists and cover more eras all under the umbrella of reggae. Pairing reggae dancehall instrumentals with the already eclectic variety of Mexican music spoke to the band's desire to do something uniquely authentic for its 20th anniversary. The album includes classic Mexican songs such as "Sabor a Mi" and "Besame Mucho," but also songs by contemporary Mexican acts like Cafe Tacuba and Mana, Mexican-American greats like Selena, and classic legends like Santana. Ozomatli has always brought people and cultures together with their music and that is exactly what this album embodies, merging Jamaican influences with Mexican roots to lend an original Ozo sound to songs we all know.

Prior to paying respects to the classic Latin catalogue, Ozomatli was creating its own repertoire adored by fans and critics alike. The band catapulted to the top of the live music scene with its first eponymously titled album. The impact of the then 10-piece band's album was felt throughout the music world, and earned them the opportunity to open for Carlos Santana on his Supernatural tour. Following the success of its first album and touring with Santana and Mana, Ozomatli released its sophomore album, Embrace the Chaos, which garnered a Grammy award for Best Latin Rock/Alternative Album. The follow up album, Street Signs, won both the same award and the Latin Grammy Award for Best Alternative Music Album in 2005.

Ozomatli takes firm stances on various social justice issues. Their work focuses on giving voice to Latino culture, opportunity to children, fighting for workers' rights, and promoting global unity and peace amongst people, cultures and nations. Ozomatli were named Cultural Ambassadors for the U.S. State Department in 2006, was the first musical group to speak at the TED Conference in San Francisco, and performed for President and First Lady Obama at the Congressional Hispanic Caucus Institute's 32nd Annual Award Gala.

In addition to politics and social issues, Ozomatli emphasizes the importance of family and children. Ozomatli has strived to make music to be shared through the generations and have even recorded music specifically targeted towards children and families. Their 2012 release, Ozomatli Presents OzoKidz, features all original children's music that captures the innovation and liveliness that Ozo fans have become accustomed to, while educating children on the values of nature and knowledge. The band continues to perform the album at special OzoKidz concerts, where parents and children alike dance and play along on OzoKidz kazoos.

With Non-Stop, Ozomatli continues creating music for entire families and communities. By recreating these classic Latin songs, Ozo redefines their meaning and reimagines their beauty for generations to come. As Ozomatli percussionist and MC, Justin Poree, puts it, "Anyone who is eight or 80 will recognize "Sabor a Mi" or "Besame Mucho." These rhythmically and melodically rich songs bridge the generational gap, captivate all who listen, and beautifully mesh a variety of rich cultures.

Chali 2na
Chali 2na MC. Musician. Actor. Painter. Renaissance Man.

Chali 2na has done it all. From his days growing up on the hardscrabble streets of Chicago’s south side, to his subsequent explosion onto Los Angeles’ burgeoning hip-hop scene, to his tenure as MC for seminal hip-hop group Jurassic 5, Chali epitomizes the portrait of a 21st century artist.

To be sure, with his unmistakable, beloved baritone, Chali has firmly established himself as one of the most distinctive, charismatic personalities not just in hip-hop, but music in general.

Only a select few can say they’ve rocked microphones in front of thousands at a sold-out arena in Tokyo with Jurassic 5, spit rhymes at Lollapalooza, painted professional caliber oil color paintings in their California home and lent their distinctive bass-heavy voice, to such mega-brands as Coca Cola and Sega Dreamcast.

Now, buoyed by the wide spectrum of socio-cultural and geographical influences that have shaped him—hip-hop’s Renaissance man released his first solo album Fish Outta Water on Decon Records in the spring of 2009.

Indeed, this deeply personal body of work reveals a side of the long time Jurassic 5 and Ozomatli front man that his fans have never seen, a story from start to finish of his life, loves, triumphs and let downs, weaving in a powerful selection of beats from the likes of Scott Storch and Jake 1 and memorable appearances from Damian “Jr. Gong” and Stephen Marley, Anthony Hamilton, Beanie Man and others.

“I wanted this album to expose who I am as an artist. The majority of people know me from Jurassic 5 and Ozo, but I felt like nobody knew me as an artist,” Chali says. “I want to show you all facets of who I am. Man. Husband. Brother. Father. Son. Painter.”

Indeed, Chali’s diverse tastes—from the blues he was raised on to the political gangsta’ rap he loved to the graffiti art he sprayed as a teenager—flow from this album, like the oil colors Chali uses for his paintings.

There’s the Fury-produced,“Righteous Way,” an interpolation of Curtis Mayfield’s “The Makings Of You,” where Chali tells the story of his life through the eyes of his father, his 17 year- old son and himself.

Or the Scott Storch driven “Love Is Gonna Get You,” where Chali offers up his own take on the fabled KRS-One song that inspired this 21st century version.

“KRS was talking about how love was going to engulf his brother. This song talks about how love makes you do the strangest things, how it infects your heart and changes you forever,” he said.

Of course, no body of work involving Chali 2na would be complete without his trademark, articulate, spitfire rhymes, the sort of fearsome battle raps which first caught the ear of so many back when he honed his skills in Los Angeles’ storied underground hip-hop scene of the early nineties.

On “Don’t Stop,” featuring the ever-soulful Anthony Hamilton, Chali beckons everyone– from revolutionaries to thugs to dime pieces–to leave their troubles at home over a melodic, flute-infused hook.

“Getting sick of the bickering from my peers and such. Bringing lyrics to keep your ears in touch,” he rhymes, daring anyone to test his mettle while playfully requesting that you too take your body to the dance floor in the same breath.

Indeed, Chali’s debut features a seemingly endless litany of groundbreaking tracks, which touch on topics the veteran musician has never bared to his listeners before. Whether it’s the trauma he experienced from the shooting death of a childhood friend to the twists and turns of his own family lineage, to the resistance to injustice that has always been imbued in Chali’s music, Fish Outta Water, is quite simply, a life’s worth of songs in the making.

Says Chali: “I want to free people’s asses and let their minds follow. To not be preachy, but to make them aware of what I’m about. I want to enlighten, but I ain’t trying to be a bumper sticker either.”

No doubt, there’s still plenty of fire in Chali’s lyrical arsenal. His days of training at the legendary Los Angeles hotspot, the Good Life Café, have taught him well. Only now, he’s fused the bass-heavy bravado with his own life’s story, and in doing so, creates an album of work that’s not only superb, it’s important.


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