Review of Dont Mess With The Dragon Album by Ozomatli

Dont Mess With The Dragon
Album Review

Ozomatli Dont Mess With The Dragon Album

The Grammy award winning 10-piece festival favourites are back with their second offering on latin/jazz label Concord. For this, their fifth studio album, Wil Dog-Abers & Co recruited poptastic producer K.C Porter and retreated to a community artspace in their hometown of L.A. The outcome is a much cleaner, more playlist friendly selection than 2004´s Street Signs. Furiously blending pop, rock, ska, salsa, reggaeton, rnb and hip hop to create an energetic mixture of percussive carnival party starters and smooth afro-latino jams.

Tracks like the brassy, hook filled opener, 'Can't Stop' and the repetitive 'Here We Go' indicate an apparent desire to reach a more mainstream audience, whilst the post-hurricane Katrina theme of 'Magnolia Soul', and the contemplative ´Violeta', written from the viewpoint of a soldier in Iraq remonstrate their social awareness. The uplifting calypso-ska of title track 'Don´t Mess With the Dragon' the entirely español mariachi of 'La Gallina' and soca-hop immigrant song 'La tempatura' are lively revamps of their diverse traditional roots.

Don't Mess With the Dragon is a further step away from the salsa driven socio-political hip-hop that brought them to this point that frequently drifts into the sub-urban pop-hop arena dominated by the likes of the Black Eyed Peas and strays uncomfortably close to the jamon y queso of Ricky Martín, but as long as they still kick ass live, I don't care.

Danny Harrison

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