October 2004

Street Signs
Concord Records

Ozomatli is a Southern Californian multicultural group that blends Latin rhythms and melodies with hip-hop, funk and jazz. On its third disc, Street Signs (Concord), Ozomatli adds North African and Arabic music to its sound as the band tackles social issues on "Believe" and "Love and Hope." For all its splendid musicianship and earnestness, however, Street Signs is an overheated mess. Blame it on Clive Davis' success with Santana's Supernatural, but it seems that Ozomatli wants to appeal to every urban demographic, from using rated-PG rap on "Street Signs" and "Who's to Blame" to barrio-fueled, "raise your fists" chants and suave Latin-pop vocals on "(Who Discovered) America?" But ultimately, it all sounds anonymous.

Originally published in October 2004
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