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Radio La Chusma

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Critic's Pick Release Date: 2010-07-28

They’ve been written about in Playboy. Their hit “Adelante” was chosen as their native El Paso’s official song. They’ve opened for the Doobie Brothers, WAR, and Steel Pulse. But you still might not have heard about six-piece Radio La Chusma ? a musical melting pot bubbling with ingredients from both sides of the Rio Grande (not surprisingly RLC has a following in Juarez and El Paso). RLC’s synthesis of traditional roots reggae and world-y genres like “Mesoamerican Afro-beat” and “pre-Columbian” music isn’t just about dancing: Although full of energy and often uplifting, socio-economic themes (including the band’s usage of the term “chusma,” which formerly meant “poor” but has been embraced by a younger generation focused on empowerment) and the U.S. /Mexico border give the lyrics depth. According to guitarist Ernesto Tinajero (whom Playboy’s Luis Alberto Urrea described as both a “dreadlocked prophet” and a “wizardly sex tarantula”), “The border is collaborative, full of creation. When two huge forces like our two nations meet, great energies are unleashed — something beautiful erupts.”

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