I don't know of a lot of music out of Guatemala, and when I hear songs about the Orishas, I tend to think of Cuba or Brazil, or perhaps Colombia. But a musician called Santero is rearranging my musical world. Incorporating traditional Orisha chants and rhythms with hip-hop and soul elements (just check out the horns and organ on "Oba"), Santero pumps out a pump-it-up blend of post-national music. Santero's family bounced around Central America, then various cities in the USA, laying the foundations for his music with various bands and DJ gigs. But he has always kept a connection with his spiritual roots.
"The way we speak with our ancestors, the way we call them down, is dance and song, but mostly through rhythm and bata drums," Santero says. "All the tracks are transposed traditional bata drumming. ... My ideal goal is to expose people to the Lukumi tradition in a non-judgmental way. The traditional isn't as strong and I just want to make sure there is a whole new generation exposed to it."
The album is sung and rapped in Spanish and English, with lyrics ranging from condemnation of ocean pollution to prayers (danceable prayers!) to Orisha dieties Obatala (on "Baba Ade") Ogun (on "Machete") and "Ochosi." Have a listen:
from the album El Hijo de Obatala