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Quick Spin: Achy Obejas reviews Choc Quib Town's album ‘Oro'

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Tuesday, March 2, 2010

Choc Quib Town


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We don't hear a lot about Colombia's Pacific coast, and outside of salsa, Afro-Colombians are rarely represented in popular music. So Choc Quib Town -- for Choco, Colombia's blackest and poorest region, and Quibdo, its capital city -- may not sound very typically Colombian.

No vallenato here, or cumbia, or big booming voices. Instead, what you'll get is a bit of aguabajo (lots of interplay between male and female voices), a good dose of makerule (a sweet marimba style-rhythm with lots of call and response), and a dash of currulao (a dance based on a 6/8 beat), all blended together with tropical-style hip-hop, Jamaican reggae and electronica.

"Oro," the band's U.S. debut after getting a best new artist nom at the Latin Grammys, is a compilation of 16 tracks, only nine of which correspond to the original Colombian "Oro." About half were produced by Ivan Benavides, including the superb "Somos Pacificos" -- the group's anthem, a hypnotic and addictive concoction that brought Choc Quib Town its initial success.

Lead singer Goyo's voice is a sultry instrument that can be smoky or light and seems to occasionally channel Lauryn Hill. The rhymes, mostly in Spanish, are pretty straightforward, but the music is simply delightful.

-- Achy Obejas

Recommended tracks:

"Somos Pacificos," "De Donde Vengo Yo," "Pescao Envenenao," "San Antonio"

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