The Bottom Line
- Easy-to-like cumbia-based music with hip hop/reggaeton mix
- Infectious, amusing lyrics
- Die-hard reggaeton fans will be disappointed
- 16 tracks of hip hop, cumbia and reggaeton fusion.
- Guest artists include Toni Haze, Shaka Black, Heavy Clan, Rene Alonso and more.
- Released July 2008 by Mi Estilo Music
Guide Review - Music Review: Crooked Stilo - 'Cumbia Urbana'
Viktor 'El Lunatico' Lopez and Johnny Lopez moved to East L.A. from their native El Salvador at an early age and there their interests diverged. Raised in a home where the music of preference was the popular cumbia, Viktor liked what he heard at home while brother Johnny was fascinated by American rap.
Instead of going off to make music with other like-minded friends, the brothers stuck together by fusing their preferences into something they named 'cumbia urbana.'
So what is this urban cumbia?
As is commin in hip hop, they start with sampling sound bites from the family record collection, then adding different musical elements and rapping atop the mix. Though the band didn't get much airplay with this 'crooked' style, they did develop a large underground fanbase.
Cumbia Urbana (the album, not the popular song from 2005's Retrasalo) may not be their strongest offering but it is a fun listen. Many of the songs are layed on top of the popular reggaeton rhythm, but unlike manstream reggaeton, the beat/percussion does not take over the track and the lyrics are more often humerous rather than angry.
"La Charanga" is the album's big danceable cumbia. "Chica Elegante" is about a stand-out, elegant girl (is that a Chopin intro I hear?) while the self-explanatory "Perdoname" is sung on top of a cumbia/salsa rhythm. "No Fui Yo" suggests the excuse for being caught-out - 'it wasn't me.'
The album is fun, has lots of danceable tracks and lyrics that will stick in your mind long after the album is over.