Ozomatli

Place in the Sun

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For Ozomatli's sixth studio album, 2014's Place in the Sun (seventh if you count their giddy 2012 children's pop album, Ozokidz), the Los Angeles rock, rap, reggae, and Latin ensemble decided to work exclusively with longtime engineer and producer Robert Carranza. Carranza, who began his career in the '90s (just around the time Ozomatli were getting together), had worked with the band on and off since 2001's Embrace the Chaos. Still a virtual unknown during their first collaboration, Carranza developed over the years into an in-demand studio guide, garnering credits with such diverse acts as Jack Johnson, Los Lobos, Supergrass, and others. Similarly, since first working with Carranza, Ozomatli have perfected their own eclectic approach to making music, deepening their roots in Latin and world fusion, while also continuing to push the boundaries of high-energy rock and rap. The combination of Ozomatli and Carranza is a palpably synergistic one, and Place in the Sun is bursting with a dynamic, rowdy vibe. Musically, all of the band's touchstones are here, from positive-minded reggae ("Brighter"), to electronic-infused Latin dance ("Prendida"), to steely-eyed hard rock ("Burn It Down"). That said, much of the album is taken up with frenetic, dancefloor-ready cuts like the reggaeton-infused "Paleta" and the explosive hip-hop-meets-mambo number "Échale Grito." In some ways, Ozomatli have gotten so adept at playing various styles within the vein of Latin pop that to say they are a hybridization is almost beside the point. Ultimately, the bottom line with Place in the Sun is that Ozomatli and Carranza have become masters of their trade, crafting a supremely engaging album that hits the musical sweet spot every time.

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