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Ozomatli

party politics

The story of Ozomatli is one of those beautiful Rock 'n' Roll epics that reaffirms your faith in the power of music. As the original SoCal party band, Ozo started taking over small clubs and bars across L.A. almost 10 years ago. Anyone who experienced the band's infectious explosion of salsa, Latin jazz, hip-hop, funk, and rock will tell you that it left them changed- once their supercharged sound hit, you couldn't stand still. Always beginning and ending each performance with a percussion-led parade through the crowd, the 10 piece multi-ethnic collective quickly built a diverse, loyal following and became notorious for instigating spontaneous celebrations and packing dance floors across the West coast.

Then in the summer of 2000, fate stepped in, and something unexpected but inevitable took place. At the forefront of the grassroots protest of the Democratic National Convention in L.A., Ozomatli provided the soundtrack for the masses gathered to challenge the status quo. Just as quickly as they whipped the thousands of marchers into a unified, funkified frenzy, they were shut down by the cops and a riot erupted. There and then Ozomatli became the voice of the disenfranchised, and suddenly the party had a purpose.

"When we played the DNC it was our darkest time as a band and the show was a wake up call for a commitment to still be there, to still be the people's band," says bassist Wil-Dog. "We were like, 'this is really important that we are a group and that we stay together for more than just making a living.'" Taking their mission to heart, the band recorded their second album of politically charged, urban flavored dance music, Embrace the Chaos (Interscope), released on the auspicious date of September 11, 2001. With guest appearances from Common and members of De La Soul, Dilated Peoples, and Black- Eyed Peas, Chaos brought Ozomatli to national attention, intensifying their focus and sharpening its social conscience. Over the past two years the band has toured around the globe, bringing their No World Border party to Europe, Slovenia, Turkey, and Australia.

With a new release slated for early 2004, Ozomatli is set to launch another musical campaign in the name of peace, justice and activism. This time around there will be a few changes in the lineup, but the group's ethic remains constant: life is a festival of common differences, and coming together to celebrate them is the best way to create the world we want to live in. Guaranteed to leave you breathless and hopeful, Ozomatli is a band that makes you want to believe, to be better, to be true.