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Review: Cucu Diamantes - 'Cuculand'

About.com Rating 4.5 Star Rating

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Cucu Diamantes - Cuculand

Cucu Diamantes - Cuculand

Fun Machine

The Bottom Line

Cuculand is Yerba Buena co-founder Cucu Diamantes debut album and what a stellar debut it is. An upbeat album of tracks that combine funk, hip hop, cumbia, pop, tango together with lyrics written by Diamantes that express personal and universally familiar themes, this is an album that you can lead you to dance or think with tracks that you'll want to play over and over again.

Listen /Download /Purchase

Pros

  • Upbeat, danceable, fresh tracks written by Diamantes
  • Mix of rhythms, styles that is sure to please
  • Favorite track: hip hop tinged tango "Mas Fuerte"

Cons

  • If you're expecting Yerba Buena, this is something a little different

Description

  • 10 tracks of Latin funk, hip hop, pop, cumbia
  • Guest artist: Yotuel from the Orishas
  • Released March 2009 by Fun Machine Records

Guide Review - Review: Cucu Diamantes - 'Cuculand'

I love ‘that funky Latin music’ which means that a new album by New York’s Yerba Buena was a big event. It was sad to see the group slowly break-up until ultimately lead vocalist Xiamara Lougart left the group to pursue a solo career and star in Celia, the musical that celebrates the life of Celia Cruz.

I’ve also seen Yerba Buena live a number of times and was less impressed with Yerba co-founder Cucu Diamantes as a singer. Sure, she added a lot to the group; she’s lively, sexy and brings lots of energy to the stage but Lougart’s voice was so mesmerizing that Diamantes just seemed like a great back-up voice.

That’s why Cuculand is such a wonderful surprise.

Diamantes’ debut album chronicles an intimate and telling journey; each song is full of her ebullient and extravagant personality. The music was created by producer/composer (and husband) Andres Levin and the Orisha’s Yotuel with lyrics by Diamantes. But there’s no doubt the themes are her own as the album explores relationships, independence and a woman intensely committed to maintaining her own identity.

Now, if you think that with these types of themes would make for a serious or sober album, you just aren’t familiar with Diamantes.The tracks are a mix of tango, funk, hip hop, cumbia and pop and while there are a couple of numbers reminiscent of Yerba Buena’s sound, most are fresh, upbeat and inherently Cucu Diamantes.

Finally, what really amazes me is Diamantes’ singing. Her speaking voice is high, fast-paced, nasal, almost irritating. (Listen to the first track, which is a spoken introduction). But when she raises it in song, it becomes a different instrument: strong, flexible, pleasant. Diamantes describes it as a ‘typical Cuban voice’ and while I’m not sure what that means, I sure like what she does with it

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