To combine the music of the many different cultures in Los Angeles might not be the easiest job for musicians. Gaining their respect -- while performing political activism -- isn't either.
Yet this is one place where Los Angeles native band Ozomatli prospers, delivering world music with essences of Latin, Hip Hop, and Rock contrasted with Indian Sitar and Jamaican Reggae. The name Ozomatli comes from the Nahuatl name for the Aztec astrological symbol for the monkey, which also represents the god of dance, fire, the new harvest and music. Ozomatli bring this diversity into each of their works.
The band formed in 1995 while playing for strikers at an industrial dispute and following this by launching themselves onto the Southern Californian and Mexican border club scene. Their first, self-titled album appeared in 1998, and their second album “Embrace the Chaos” was released on September the 11th 2001. They were one of the few US bands to continue playing immediately after this epic date. Since then two more albums have followed, “Street Signs” in 2004 and “Don’t Mess With the Dragon” in 2007.
It is on the stage that Ozomatli are most remembered. Each show starts with the members snaking though the crowds to loud drum beats before taking to the stage and delivering “music for the people" as it's been termed. "Some refer to it as Latin, hip-hop, rock or some mix of the three. I like to call it just plain good music” (see bandega.com). For more information or tour dates for Ozomatli visit their website on www.ozomatli.com
. Following is another quote on the band and how they fit into the social fabric of Los Angeles.
“You drive down Sunset Boulevard and turn off your stereo and roll down your windows and all the music that comes out of each and every different car, whether it's salsa, cumbia, merengue, or Hip Hop, funk or whatever, it's that crazy blend that's going on between that cacophony of sound is Ozomatli, y'know?”
-2007 NPR interview of band members Jiro Yamaguchi and Ulises Bella