30 September 2007

South of the Border Funk (CD Review)

Various Artists: The Rough Guide to Latin Funk
(World Music Network)
buy CD/hear samples

Someone more famous than I once asked, "what is soul?" A rhetorical question, yes, and not unlike the Rolex: if you have to ask, you probably can't afford it. Or don't already have it.

"Funk" may be a similar universal term whose definition depends more on attitude than instrumentation. It's more art than science. James Brown spread funk from America to Africa. So what are the roots of funk in Latin America? No se. But this is a great collection of music from artists as diverse as Cuban Santeria singer Bobi Cespedes, NYC-based Afrobeat orchestra Antibalas, and Chilean hip hopper DJ Bitman.

California seems a particular funk hotbed, with Ozomatli contributing "La Gallina" (video) and Los Mocosos rocking through "Vete/El Largo Adios." Other artists include Jose Conde y Ola Fresca, Joe Bataan, Quantic, X Alfonso, Los Amigos Invisibles, The Spam Allstars, Baku, Nortec Collective, Up, and Bustle & Out. I know some of you already have these artists' CDs in your collection; for the rest of you, this compilation is a great launching point for exploring the world of Latin funk.

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