By Ruth Conniff
By Antonino D'Ambrosio
Ozomatli’s new album moves with the hum of history, inspiring those who listen to seek liberty and shake free of fear. The album is an enchanting musical journey propelled by songs like, “Nadas Por Free,” “Elysian Persuasion,” “Caballito,” and the anthem-like “Gay Vatos in Love,” which is the album’s fulcrum. “It’s another issue for us about the underdog that we can connect with as individuals to the rights of people across all spectrums,” Pacheco explains.
With Pacheco on vocals, each verse presents a different scenario, including the pain of coming out:
Javi and Kike with their girlfriends in the car
Fronting on Crenshaw, knowing who they are
It also addresses the hatred and violence gay/lesbian/transgender people persistently face:
Gabriel says amor es amor
But Angie Zapata is lying on the dance floor
(Zapata was an eighteen-year-old transgender woman in Colorado, killed in 2008 by a sexual partner who discovered she was male.)
Among some fans and people in the Chicano and Latino community, there has been a backlash against the tune. But Pacheco dismisses it. “We can be fighting for our own issues and not see how the gay and lesbian rights movement is connected to our quest for a better humanity all across the board,” Pacheco says. Being from California where the 2008 ban on gay marriage (Proposition 8) passed provided more weight to the matter. “When we were making this record we felt that there has got to be a way to challenge ourselves and our fans,” Pacheco says. “We’re not going to do the same old thing for safety’s sake.”
Celebration. Creativity. Community. Connection. These are the bedrock principles of Ozomatli. “It’s never been our style to hammer people over the head,” Pacheco explains. “When we are talking about political and social issues, we are talking about the recognition of the other as a good thing.”
This is but a small excerpt of the profile of Ozomatli that appeared in the September issue of The Progressive. To read the entire profile, and to subscribe to The Progressive for only $14.97, (a huge discount!), click here.