Friday, September 16, 2011
ERIC BOBO & LATIN BITMAN-Welcome To The Ritmo Machine (Nacional Records, 2011)
I'm a confessed fan of both Latin Bitman and Eric Bobo and I've been following their careers closely for a while now. Back in 2002 I discovered Bitman through the innovative Robar Es Natural signed by the then-duo Bitman & Roban which we nominated for best album of the year in my La Banda Elástica days, way before anybody else in the US ever talked about him (or anybody else in the progressive Chilean hip-hop scene).
Eric Bobo, the son of the legendary Latin soul pioneer Willie Bobo, has been touring with hip-hop artists as a live percussionist since forever, from the Beastie Boys during their Ill Communication days to Cypress Hill. It was with the later that I had a chance to meet him back in 1996 when I was giving my first, timid, baby-steps into music journalism. He was, in fact, the first international English-speaking artist I've ever interviewed.
So, as you can imagine, I have a lot of love for these two. Both had been in the Nacional Records roster for a while but neither received the level of exposure they deserved compared to other artists of the same label (with four releases on Nacional Records, Bitman has still to come and tour the US for the first time), but with this ambitious collaboration album, that will be reverted. I hope.
I mean, after we saw labelmate Ana Tijoux breaking all the language/market barriers and getting unprecedented levels of attention from the Anglo (and specialized hip-hop) media, there's absolutely no reason why this album would fail to achieve the same. Specially considering the top-notch guests MC's dropping rhyming knowledge (amongst whom we have, of course, Ana Tijoux, albeit in an odd pairing with Psycho Realm's Sick Jacken).
I had humongous expectations for this project and so far it hasn't disappointed me (I received an advance copy yesterday, I've only listened to it twice, and I haven't had a chance to test it on my DJ sets yet). The combination of Bitman's proficiency in crafting funky break beats and his professed love to the Brazilian cool along with Bobo's restless percussion is sublime and I'd even argue that most of the times, the guest vocalists are just an unnecessary added value. Of course everybody loves Jurassic 5's Chali 2Na, and Cypress Hill's Sen Dog is a likable character as well, but Control Machete's Pato? Having access to the most avant-guard MC's of the Spanish Language in their vicinity, why did you see the need to go so old school?
Anyway, as already stated, this is not an album held together by guest stars and it stands very well on its own with just the talent of both Eric Bobo and Bitman, so that doesn't matter. Now seriously, if there was one Nacional Records release that would benefit of vinyl pressing this is it, right here, look no further. It has all the potential in the world to cross-over to the beat-digging, vinyl-loving, true-school hip-hop fans and become a collector's item. Nacional slept on many others that would've been successful on vinyl (Bomba Estéreo, Ana Tijoux), I really hope they don't sleep on this one or I'll be tempted to break into their offices, Pinochet style, and take over operations in a record label coup d'état.
Watch out for this release dropping in November, 2011.