I first heard of ChocQuibTown through Masala - always first concerning extraordinary worldly beats. The video for "San Antonio" (below) was a great introduction to the habitat of this Colombian hiphop outfit, showing multiracial fun in the streets of San Antonio, a neighborhood in the city of Cali. Contrasting with the very low budget video is the crystal clear sound of the band, with lead singer Gloria 'Goyo' Perea's sultry voice as the cherry on the cake.
ChocQuibTown's debut album Somos Pacifico was produced by the innovative duo Ivan Benavidez (Carlos Vives) and Richard Blair (Sidestepper) - and it has become a jewel. It's latin hiphop exactly how I like it, incorporating the funky sound of the Colombian pacific to create a pure and refreshing sound. The concept is similar to what Orishas does with Cuban folklore or what Andy Palacio did for Garifuna culture: an ode to their home and roots made for a global audience.
The album is very diverse in rhythms, giranting between urban beats (soft dancehall in "No Le Copio"), latin tropicalia (salsa in "Pescao Envenenao", rumba in "Somos Pacifico") and Afro-Colombian traditionals even I never heard of (bambazú, anybody?). The comparison with Tego Calderón's The Underdog is never far away, though ChocQuibTown stays on the less-commercial side of latin urban music, using subtle hiphop grooves rather than deafening reggaeton beats. Most of all ChocQuibTown is funky, sometimes even jazzy (Goyo often made me think of Cuban jazz poet Telmary) like on "Busco Personas".
Top tracks are the aforementioned "San Antionio" and "Pescao Envenenao" featuring Colombia's hottest salsa crew, La 33. The latter is also a great example of the activism and social awareness in Choc Quib Town's lyrics, warning their people about politicans spreading hate and fear. Title track "Somos Pacifico" is heavy on samples and scratching but like no other breathes the exotic atmosphere that characterizes the album.
Se une la región
La pinta, la raza
y el don del sabor
Some less convincing tracks are inevitably present on every hiphop album (here it's "Alguien Como Tu" and "Lo Nuevo") but Somos Pacifico is definitely worth your attention if you're up for a pleasant discovery!
ChocQuibTown - Somos Pacifico mp3
ChocQuibTown ft. La 33 - Pescao Envenenao
Album: Somos Pacifico (Rue Bleue/Polan)
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