Godfathers of Sol: Ozomatli Bring the Funk Back Home

After a four year hiatus, L.A.’s unofficial festival band is ready to hit the road again as one of the city’s most vocal emissaries


After four years circling the globe as U.S. cultural ambassadors, Ozomatli needed a break. For most bands that would mean solo projects, suntans, and soul searching. The two-time Grammy winners instead toiled in the recording studio. “At home, neighborhoods were changing and there were new stories to tell,” says East L.A.-raised guitarist and singer Raul Pacheco, explaining the inspiration for the band’s eighth full-length sonic mash-up, Place in the Sun, out March 11. “The band members live everywhere from El Sereno to North Hollywood, which allows us glimpses into every part of the city.” While recording at EastWest Studios in Hollywood, the seven musicians ladled their signature sabor atop a simmering broth of Chicano rock, trunk-rattling hip-hop, lubricious funk, and slinky salsa. It’s emblematic of the eclecticism you’d expect from the city where kimchi quesadillas were born. The lead single, “Brighter,” features guitar licks by Dave Stewart of Eurythmics, who had invited the band to perform on his variety show, The Ringmaster. Since forming to play at a labor protest in 1995, the crew has become L.A.’s unofficial festival band, winning fans block party by block party while traveling from Myanmar to Poland. Back home they’re still excavating the sounds of L.A. neighborhood by neighborhood, ready to hit the road again as one of the city’s most vocal emissaries.

3 Homegrown Acts Influenced by Ozomatli:

Chicano Batman
Released in February, the band’s Cycles of Existential Rhyme showcases psychedelic soul ballads inspired by Brazilian tropicália.

Las Cafeteras
The group melds Mexican son jarocho folk with contemporary punk and hip-hop while riffing on racial profiling and immigration reform.

La Santa Cecilia
Named for the patron saint of musicians, the Grammy winners have synthesized almost every Latin American style, from bossa nova to bolero.


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