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The genre-bending Los Angeles band Ozomatli, known for its protest music and pro-diversity activism, is launching an almost entirely Spanish-language album featuring covers of classic and contemporary Mexican hits.  EFE/Faizah Rajput
The genre-bending Los Angeles band Ozomatli, known for its protest music and pro-diversity activism, is launching an almost entirely Spanish-language album featuring covers of classic and contemporary Mexican hits.  EFE/Faizah Rajput

Ulises Bella: "We've always combated all that crap that Donald Trump talks about"

The new album of Ozomatli, which is titled "Non-Stop: Mexico to Jamaica" and will be released today, is aimed at showing solidarity with the Latino community.

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The genre-bending Los Angeles band Ozomatli, known for its protest music and pro-diversity activism, is launching an almost entirely Spanish-language album featuring covers of classic and contemporary Mexican hits.

The album, which is titled "Non-Stop: Mexico to Jamaica" and will be released Friday, is aimed at showing solidarity with the Latino community.

"It wasn't a conscious decision" to do a mostly Spanish album, Ulises Bella, the Grammy Award-winning group's tenor saxophonist, told EFE.

"We've always done fusion music, but English sometimes clashes badly with certain styles, and the same happens sometimes with Spanish. Listening to salsa in English can be awful at times," he said laughing.

But after Republican real-estate magnate Donald Trump's surprise victory in the 2016 United States presidential election, Ozomatli found the situation was ripe for the band to release an album that is virtually all in Spanish except for some English lyrics on three tracks.

"It's a testament to the fact that Hispanics and the Spanish language are very present in the US. We've always combated all that crap that Donald Trump talks about, that anti-immigrant sentiment of wanting to put up walls and that whole climate of fear," said Bella, the son of a Spanish father and Mexican mother.

The record pays homage to songs that the band members listened to as children but which have been reimagined with a dancehall reggae feel thanks to the work of Jamaican production duo Sly & Robbie, who are known for their work on albums by Bob Dylan, The Rolling Stones, Madonna and No Doubt.

The band also enlisted the help of award-winning artists such as Colombian singer-songwriter Juanes, who provides vocals on a rendition of Juan Gabriel's classic hit "El Noa Noa."

Regulo Caro (Julieta Venegas's "Andar conmigo"), Gaby Moreno (Luis Miguel's "Solamente una vez") and Herb Alpert (Pedro Infante's "Besame mucho") also contributed to the album, which also includes the tracks "Eres," "Como la flor," "Oye mi amor," "La bamba" and "Volver volver."

 

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