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Ozomatli

Don¹t Mess With the Dragon
Concord Records

The multi-ethnic, multi-disciplinary L.A.-based tribe known as Ozomatli made its name by cutting up salsa, hip-hop, traditional Mexican music, funk, jazz and more into barn-burning, irresistible party music. Unfortunately, this followup tries too hard to capitalize on the group's Grammy-winning success by aiming straight for the multi-culti pop charts. While tasty cream like "La Gallina" and "Magnolia Soul" -- along with a few infectious horn lines -- floats to the top, cheesy melodies and female backups (not to mention uninspired raps and absolutely inexplicable hair-metal guitars) weigh down most of the tracks. Ozo has never been subtle, but there's a desperate, pandering vibe to tracks like the No Doubt-biting "When I Close My Eyes" and the Jack Johnson en español groove of "After Party." The collection is a pale imitation of the blazing albums that precede it. Here, the dragon that once breathed fire only conjures a disagreeable belch.

 
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