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Dancing to a political beat with Latin reggae

 
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teknofriend



Joined: 25 Oct 2005
Posts: 199

PostPosted: Sun Nov 20, 2005 1:53 am    Post subject: Dancing to a political beat with Latin reggae Reply with quote

With so much attention focused on reggaetón, the story of the year in Latin music, it's been easy to overlook the straight-up, Bob Marley-style reggae that is played in the Spanish-speaking world. While Argentina produced the formidable Los Pericos, Jamaica's Caribbean neighbor Puerto Rico is a natural site for reggae to take hold. The island's Cultura Profética has been the leading band for several years, and its new release, "M.O.T.A." (Luar/Universal/Machete), produced by ex-Marley collaborator Errol Brown, is the most rasta-licious reggae en Espańol album in memory.

A favorite of Puerto Rico's politically active university students, Cultura Profética has collaborated with the spoken-word poet Gallego and bomba revisionist William Cepeda. In the summer, the group's appearance at rapper Vico C.'s concert in San Juan was one of the highlights of the three-hour show. The band has a strong sense of its place in Puerto Rico's musical tradition, something that makes its brand of reggae richer and more fully realized than other Spanish-language practitioners.

While Cultura Profética is a dynamic 11-piece configuration, the central songwriting force seems to be vocalist-bassist Willy Rodríguez and guitarist Omar Silva. When Rodríguez's soothing tenor engages in harmonies with drummer Boris Bilbraut, guitarist Eliut González and vocalist Widalys López, the unique charm of the band is on display. A song like "Ritmo Que Pesa" (Heavy Rhythm), the album's first single, delicately embellished by scatting guitar riffs and soulful electric keyboards, feels like a cool breeze on a hot tropical afternoon.

"M.O.T.A." stands for "Momentos de Ocio en el Templo del Ajusco," which when translated means "Moments of Leisure in the Temple of Ajusco," referring to the band's recent residency in a mountainous area west of Mexico City. The acronym is also Spanish slang for that herb that Rastafarians favor, and much of the lyrical content reinforces the anti-materialism of the reggae ethos. The swinging "Nadie Se Atreve," which includes DJ Nature's turntablism, rails against pop music and suggests "real art" and "real music" are our salvation.

"Que Será?" wonders about Puerto Rico's future, while "No Me Interesa" is a stinging rebuke of the island's colonial status as a U.S. territory. "Your supposed federal help doesn't interest me," Rodríguez sings. "Your war doesn't interest me/It's only an excuse to conquer." "Canto en la Prisión" was penned by painter and once-imprisoned independence activist Elizam Escobar.

Although Cultura Profética isn't necessarily aligned against the gaudy materialism displayed in reggaetón, the band does provide an interesting counterpoint. With "M.O.T.A." the group has made an important musical statement that Puerto Rico's musical scene is enjoying a youth renaissance, one that creates a sense of identity just as strong as the great salseros before them.
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zypherious



Joined: 27 Oct 2005
Posts: 139

PostPosted: Sun Nov 20, 2005 10:58 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Well, it's always good to hear a minority groups making a splash in music.
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