Listen as you cruise the streets of L.A. and you’ll hear the rhythms of Ozomatli, a band named for the monkey in the ritual Aztec calendar. It’s the music of the multi-ethnic City of Angels with its rising Latino population and its polyphonic mix of rock, hip-hop, funk, cumbia and Chicano low-rider R&B. Ozomatli likes to create a street party atmosphere, but they’ve always been a band with a social conscience, too, whether its defending immigrants rights or expressing tolerance and acceptance in their new song, “Gay Vatos in Love.” Lately, they’ve become global ambassadors, roaming the world on State Department tours. As the band tells SOUND TRACKS reporter Mirissa Neff, they started out as representatives of the new L.A. but feel like they’ve become “citizens of the world.”
This is a glimpse of Ozomatli rehearsing a performance piece called "At the Edge of Urban Identity." It's a kind of history of the band, a ballad of Ozomatli, narrated by their friend Josh Kun, who they call "our resident smart guy," maybe because when he's not fronting Ozomatli he teaches music journalism at USC in downtown L.A.
This excerpt opens the performance with Josh explaining the origins of Ozomatli’s name and presenting the band’s vision of our times: “There will be pain but there will be music to ease it; injustice will be survived by protest.” This “new gospel of the monkey” ends with a funky riot of music, “If there’s gonna be a revolution, let it begin on a Saturday night.”
Segment presented by Sound Tracks: http://www.pbs.org/opb/soundtracks/
Ozomatli’s official website: http://www.ozomatli.com/