Various Latin Reggae

Being so close to the Caribbean, Latin America has enjoyed a tight relationship with reggae culture. So when I saw that Putumayo had released a Latin reggae compilation, I immediately became curious. Off the top, the majority of the artists on this comp are from Spain, meaning that the chances for some very interesting fusions of reggae with traditional South and Central American rhythms like cumbia or merengue were kind of low. Although the songs are straight up versions of reggae, ska and dub in Spanish there are several standout tracks. Spain’s Macaco is known for making spacey dub love songs and "Mulata Descolorada” is a great example of his unique reggae style. Puerto Rico’s Cultura Profética create soulful reggae with a big sound, as exemplified by "Reggae Rustico.” Producer for Easy Star records and member of Antibalas, Ticklah released his solo album last year and his deep Latin-fused dub "Hecho Pa’Lante” features vocalist Mayra Vega and is one of the best tracks here. Gondwana have been Chile’s biggest reggae group for years and "Libros Sagrados” is conscious Latin reggae at its best. Although room could have been made for some more innovative Latin reggae, this compilation still brings together a nice mix of tracks that prove that reggae is still reggae in whatever language it is. (Putumayo)