Embrace The Chaos, Ozomatli Almo Sounds

Paul Wong
Courtesy of CBS

After a three-year hiatus consisting of heavy touring with such acts as Cherry Poppin” Daddies and Dave Matthew”s Band, Ozomatli is back with their sophomore effort, “Embrace the Chaos.” Influenced by the events at last year”s Democratic National Convention (they played a show of protest and were unplugged by the police) and obviously affected by the departure of previous rap vocalist Chali Tuna, Ozo”s sound has been tweaked a bit.

Appearances by such hip-hop notables as Wil.I.Am of Black Eyed Peas, Common and De La Soul attempt to fill the void left by Chali Tuna. This is not to say their new vocalist doesn”t have any skills. Admittedly, it would be difficult to fill Chali”s shoes, but Kanetic Source flows on “Dos Cosas Ciertas” accompanied by a drum and bass beat. Also, Kanetic”s politically charged lyrics nearly match the sentiment of Tuna”s.

Ozo”s instrumentation hasn”t changed, it”s still the same Latin/African/Indian/hip-hop fuse that has defined their sound and set them apart from the crowd. There are a few different influences showcased on this album though.

On a couple tracks there is a tinge of heavier electronic music and “Pensativo” dabbles with experimental jazz.

The activist nature of Ozomatli”s music has not been compromised at all, in spite of their newly found notoriety. Sprinkled throughout the tracks are recordings of the events that occurred at Democratic National Convention. A particularly harrowing clip involves someone on a loudspeaker pleading with the police to allow the crowd to break up peacefully.

The only thing missing is style. While Kanetic”s sound can”t separate itself from the masses of other formidable MCs, Chali Tuna”s deep voice and old-school rhyme approach was overtly charming and smooth.

It”s also what made the first album”s hip-hop tracks so cohesive. Tuna”s style meshed so well with the other instrumentalists on their first release that it leaves one yearning for a reunion tour. Or better yet, a reunion album.

Grade: B

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