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Ozomatli 2012.jpg
Ozomatli 2012
Background information
OriginLos Angeles, California, United States
GenresLatin rock, Chicano rock, hip hop, world fusion, funk
Years active1995–present
LabelsAlmo Sounds (1998-1999)
Interscope (2001-2002)
Concord/Real World (2004-2007)
Downtown/Mercer Street (2010)
Hornblow/Vanguard (2012-)
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Ozomatli 2012.jpg
Ozomatli 2012
Background information
OriginLos Angeles, California, United States
GenresLatin rock, Chicano rock, hip hop, world fusion, funk
Years active1995–present
LabelsAlmo Sounds (1998-1999)
Interscope (2001-2002)
Concord/Real World (2004-2007)
Downtown/Mercer Street (2010)
Hornblow/Vanguard (2012-)

Ozomatli is a seven piece band playing primarily Latin, hip hop, and rock music, formed in 1995 in Los Angeles. They are known both for their vocal activist viewpoints and their wide array of musical styles - including salsa, jazz, funk, reggae, rap, and others.[1]


Ozomatli take their name from the Nahuatl word for the Aztec astrological symbol of the monkey, which is also a god of dance, fire, the new harvest, and music.[2] In 1995, all the members met while attempting to form a workers union within Los Angeles. While they weren't able to win recognition, they were given an abandoned building for one month. The building turned into a cultural arts center and within it, Ozomatli was born.[3]

In a 2007 NPR interview, band members Jiro Yamaguchi and Ulises Bella describe Ozomatli:

The band's first album, "Ozomatli", was released on June 16, 1998 on Almo Sounds. The album reached mainstream success following an appearance on the late night talk show “Vibe!” Featuring MC Chali 2na, turntablist Cut Chemist, drummer William Marrufo, and saxophone player Jose Espinoza, the album reached No. 7 on the Billboard Latin Albums chart (71 weeks) and No. 4 on the Billboard Latin Pop Albums chart (50 weeks). Two singles released from the album were “Cut Chemist Suite” and “Super Bowl Sundae”.[5] In 1999, Ozomatli joined Mana and Carlos Santana on tour following Santana's release of Supernatural,[6], and in 2002, the band appeared on "One of These Days", the penultimate track on the latter's album Shaman.

Ozomatli's second album, Embrace the Chaos, was released on the inauspicious date of September 11, 2001.[7] Although many American bands cancelled their concerts, Ozomatli gained some recognition for continuing to play their concerts,[8] all the while continuing their commitment to social justice and progressive politics, in addition to the rising anti-war movement. In 2002, Embrace the Chaos won a Grammy for the Best Latin Rock/Alternative Album.

In 2003, Ozomatli released a 6 song EP through Concord Records featuring the rap vocals of Kanetic Source on "Cumbia De Los Muertos" and a collaboration with The Kumbia Kings on "Mi Gente."[9]

In 2004, Street Signs was released under Concord Records. In 2001, the album won the Grammy for "Best Latin Rock/Alternative Album2005, The album also won the Latin Grammy Award for Best Alternative Music Album in 2005.[10] ".[11]

In 2005, Ozomatli released their live album, Live at the Fillmore, recorded at The Fillmore in San Francisco.

In late 2006, shortly before the release of Don't Mess With the Dragon, DJ Spinobi left the band to pursue personal projects (but stuck around until the album's release, as he appears in the photos and is credited as a member). This was the end of the longest lasting Ozomatli lineup, and the first of many lineup changes that would occur over the next year and a half. April 3, 2007, saw the release of their fourth studio album Don't Mess With The Dragon, which was co-produced by K. C. Porter. Their 2007 genre-crossing album, Don't Mess with the Dragon, released by Concord Records, was written at a local Los Angeles Latino art gallery, Tropico de Nopal. The album includes songs like "After Party", which pays homage to old-school Chicano R&B, "When I Close My Eyes," which nods back to Fishbone and Oingo Boingo, "La Segunda Mano," which features the vocals of Quetzal's Martha Gonzales blending son jarocho with hip-hop, "City of Angels," which celebrates the city of Los Angeles, and "Temperatura," which was inspired by the May 2006 pro-immigration marches.[12] On September 20, 2007, Ozomatli announced that MC Jabu was leaving the group on amicable terms.[13]

In 2006, Ozomatli were invited by the U.S. State Department to serve as official Cultural Ambassadors on a series of government-sponsored international tours. The band has since traveled to Asia, Africa, South America, the Middle East, Tunisia, India, Jordan, Nepal, Myanmar, Vietnam, Thailand, and China.[14]

In early 2008, the group did a song for the Los Angeles Dodgers called "Can't Stop The Blue," their first recording with Tre Hardson. In the video, LA drummer Chris Cano is seen in place of Calire. Shortly thereafter, Sheffer Bruton and Tre Hardson were no longer seen playing with the group, and Mario Calire appeared to be back on the drumseat. In the summer of 2008, Ozomatli announced Chali 2na would be joining them for their Fall 2008 tour.[15] Later that year, group members Wil-dog and Justin contributed their voices to the Konami music game Dance Dance Revolution X as in-game announcers.

In 2010, Ozomatli helped celebrate the Boston Pops 125th Anniversary, accompanied by the Boston Symphony Orchestra.[16] Since that first orchestral collaboration, they have gone on to perform with the National Symphony Orchestra at the Kennedy Center, the Colorado Symphony, the San Diego Symphony, and the New York Pops.[14]

Ozomatli made an appearance at TEDxSF – the first musical talk ever given at any TED conference - mixing discussion and sound to explore the challenges and promises of musical identities in a global age.[14]

Ozomatli has also been involved in composing and scoring and contributing music to Happy Feet 2[17] and Elmo's Musical Monsterpiece[18] for Warner Brothers Interactive, SIMS for EA Games,[19] music for PBS Kids,[20] the films A Better Life[21] and Harlistas,[22] and for the TV Show Standup Revolution on Comedy Central.[23]

The past few years the band has focused on 'Ozomatli Presents Ozokidz, a special family friendly set geared towards performing for children and adults alike. The album was released on Hornblow Recordings in September 2012.[24]

Social and Political Activism[edit]

Ozomatli create music to: give voice to and reveal the culture and live of Latinos;[25] fight for workers' rights;[26] and promote a global unity within both the city and the world. They promote this through their music, during their TEDxSF talk, and as Cultural Ambassadors of the US.

Notable performances[edit]


Current members[edit]

Past/Guest members[edit]


Studio albums[edit]

Live albums[edit]


Other contributions[edit]

Non-album tracks[edit]


  1. ^ http://www.santafenewmexican.com
  2. ^ http://www.santafenewmexican.com This was taken from a July 2, 2006 article in the Santa Fe New Mexican
  3. ^ Viesca, Victor Hugo (4 October 2000). "Straight Out of the Barrio: Ozomatli and the Importance of Place in the Formation of Chicano/a Popular Culture in Los Angeles". Cultural Values 4 (4): 446. doi:10.1080/14797580009367211. 
  4. ^ Ozomatli's Diverse Music Gets Personal, Weekend Edition Saturday, NPR. May 19, 2007.
  5. ^ "Superior Pics"
  6. ^ "Santana's Still Making Magic/Ozomatli, Mana join the party"
  7. ^ Laura Emerick. "5 questions with — Ozomatli," Chicago Sun-Times, May 6, 2004, section 2, page 52: "Q. Speaking of the band's last full-length record — "Embrace the Chaos" came out on the worst of all possible days: Sept. 11, 2001 ... ."
  8. ^ (No author.) "Ozomatli : The party politicians," Times-Standard (Eureka, CA), December 1, 2005: "Ozomatli released its previous full-length album on September 11, 2001. While most bands in the country responded to the attacks on the World Trade Center by canceling their concerts, Ozomatli — a multi-racial crew that has never been shy about their commitment to social justice, progressive politics and anti-war convictions — decided to keep its dates and keep playing."
  9. ^ "Ozomatli - Coming Up"
  10. ^ "2005 Grammy Award Winners"
  11. ^ "Latin Grammys Shake Things Up"
  12. ^ "ozomatli.com"
  13. ^ Goodbye Jabu!, ozomatli.com. September 20, 2007.
  14. ^ a b c "About Ozomatli"
  15. ^ "Ozomatli Reunited w/ Chali 2na - Headz Up Fall Tour 2008"
  16. ^ "Ozomatli plays a contemporary smorgasbord"
  17. ^ a b "Warner Bros. Interactive Entertainment Announces Happy Feet Two - The Videogame"
  18. ^ a b "Elmo conducts music, dance on Wii"
  19. ^ "The Sims 3 console and Late Night artists"
  21. ^ "A Better Life: Tropico de Nopal/Ozomatli Connection"
  23. ^ "Ozomatli backs Gabriel Iglesias’ Comedy Central stand-up series, records music video, "Hey, It’s Fluffy!"
  24. ^ a b "Ozomatli's new 'Ozokidz' album isn't just child's play"
  25. ^ Viesca, Victor Hugo (2004). "The Battle of Los Angeles: The Cultural Politics of Chicana/o Music in the Greater Eastside". American Quarterly 56 (3): 725. doi:10.1353/aq.2004.0045. 
  26. ^ Viesca, Victor Hugo (4 October 2000). "Straight Out of the Barrio: Ozomatli and the Importance of Place in the Formation of Chicano/a Popular Culture in Los Angeles". Cultural Values 4 (4): 455. doi:10.1080/14797580009367211. 
  27. ^ "Austin City Limits | Watch Online | PBS Video". Pbs.org. Retrieved 2012-04-18. 
  28. ^ Cohen, Sandy. 'Dancing With the Stars' makes another cut. 15 April 2008.[dead link]
  29. ^ "All-Star Lineup Honors 2010 MusiCares Person Of The Year Neil Young".
  30. ^ Sullivan, James. "Getting funky with the Pops", The Boston Globe, 7 May 2010.
  31. ^ "Ozomatli Performing in China & Mongolia as U.S. Cultural Ambassadors".
  32. ^ "Ozomatli & NCLR Call on Latinos to Vote for Respect".
  33. ^ "Ozomatli, Calexico and More @ Hollywood Bowl".
  34. ^ "Ozomatli at the Kennedy Center"
  35. ^ "Apples Uses Fire Away image for new Nano"
  36. ^ "Ozomatli and Jamie Foxx to perform at Obama rally at USC"
  37. ^ "Dallas Gets Live with Talib Kweli and Ozomatli for Red Bull Soundclash"
  38. ^ "Ozomatli covers Nubes"
  39. ^ "KCET Local Heroes Award"
  40. ^ "Itunes Sessions"
  41. ^ "Ozomatli with Josh Kun: At the Edge of Urban Identity"
  42. ^ "Ozomatli to perform with the USC Trojan Marching Band"
  43. ^ "2011 Capital Awards Highlights"
  44. ^ "David Lynch Foundation Music"
  46. ^ "Alexandre Desplat’s ‘A Better Life’ Soundtrack announced"
  47. ^ "Award-winning American Band Ozomatli in Poland July 4-11"
  49. ^ "Lincoln Center Presents American Songbook"
  50. ^ "Voto Latino, iTunes Offer Music in Exchange For Election Participation"
  51. ^ "Create a State and the Million Plates Drive"
  52. ^ "Ozomatli and Marinelli, Out of this World at NASA Ames"
  53. ^ "Best of Kokua Festival"
  54. ^ "Cultural Touchstones of the LA Riots"
  55. ^ "Artistic License Awards - 2012 - Los Angeles"
  56. ^ "Ozomatli Performs at the Opening Celebration"
  57. ^ "Jazz Festival 2012 Artist Lineup"
  58. ^ "The New York Pops with Ozomatli"
  59. ^ "Choo Choo Bob Show"
  60. ^ "Seattle Weekly calendar"
  62. ^ "Fluffy and Friends Are Back with a Second Season of "Gabriel Iglesias Presents Stand-Up Revolution"
  63. ^ "Ben Affleck, Ozomatli and 800 supporters gather to celebrate the work of Abbé Benoît Kinalegu at the Voices for Justice Dinner in Los Angeles"
  64. ^ "Obama in Myanmar: How Ozomatli's 2009 visit served as a barometer"
  65. ^ "Barry Manilow helps ring in the holidays at LA Live tree lighting"
  66. ^ "Gabriel Iglesias - Fluffy Classics - Beetle"
  67. ^ "Ozomatli Turns To A New Cool: Kids' Music"
  68. ^ "ESPN Teams with Recording Artists to Reimagine ESPN’s NBA Theme"

External links[edit]