Every once in a while a gathering of individuals, usually American or French, comes up with the truly awful idea to play their musics with various ethnic best-sellers. Los Angeles collective Ozomatli was above this on their 1998 self-titled debut. They were set to destroy hip-hop's neuroses with a little funk from Larry Harlow. Unfortunately, that finely tuned Latin jazz died with the 20th century. Street Signs, their debut for this century, is at best a mediocre album. Clocking in as the 30,000th album to unsuccessfully tack MCs to world loops, it goes farther in its total misappropriation of Egyptian jazz, lacklustering into clichéd Latin Muzak. Ozomatli's strength lies in mixing Latino flavors with a mind-set hipper than Ninja Tune; here they fail by trying to be more than just themselves.
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