Cypress Hill percussionist Eric Bobo unveils ‘Maestro’
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Sometimes, it’s just genetic. How else to explain Eric Bobo, son of Willie, the famed Latin jazz percussionist who played with (among others) Cal Tjader, Mongo Santamaria, Tito Puente and Carlos Santana?
Even if the name Eric Bobo doesn’t immediately ring a timbale, readers have inevitably heard his work. Probably often. He was playing with his father’s band at age 5 and took it over for a year at the age of 15 after the elder Bobo passed away. Later, he joined the Beastie Boys, playing percussion during their classic ‘Check Your Head’ and ‘Ill Communication’ run.
Then, after meeting Cypress Hill at the 1994 Woodstock, Bobo switched to the home team and has vividly contributed to the pan-Latin flair of the act’s later sounds.
A restless fusionist, Bobo seemingly aims to reverse engineer hip-hop back into its roots in jazz, funk and soul. Accordingly, the latest record from the Queens, New York, native finds him forming Ritmo Machine, a union with Chilean beatmaker/surf aficionado Latin Bitman that splits the difference between golden age hip rap, ‘60s and ‘70s New York Latin jazz and glitchy electronic music.
Released digitally this week on North Hollywood’s Nacional Records (the physical release is Nov. 21), Bobo and Bitman’s ‘Welcome to the Ritmo Machine’ finds the pair recruiting Chali 2na (Jurassic 5), and Beastie Boys alumni Mixmaster Mike and Money Mark. Sen Dog from Cypress Hill contributes raps, as do Pico Union legend Sick Jacken and Grammy-nominated Chilean rapper Ana Tijoux.
In honor of the record’s release, Pop & Hiss presents album highlight ‘Maestro.’ Suturing polyrhythmic African grooves, DJ scratches, electronic flourishes and a hip-hop aesthetic, it forms its own new strain of soul music. Recorded in England, Bobo described ‘Maestro’ in a promotional video as the song that set the tone for the whole record. It’s highly recommended for both man and machine.
-- Jeff Weiss