Colombian Collective Chocquibtown Finds Its Sweet Spot on ‘El Mismo’: Album Review

Courtesy of Sony Music Latin

Chocquibtown hails from Colombia's rural Pacific coast, but honed its sound in Cali, a gritty city, and one can hear both in the trio's music: a melange of hip-hop, reggaeton, electronica, ska, Afro-Latin rhythms and rapper-singer Goyo Martinez's soulful charisma. It's a dizzying mix that has earned acclaim, Grammy nods and collabs with Santana and Carlos Vives.

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But El Mismo aims to turn the group from critical curio to commercial star. Produced by Andres Castro (Vives, Prince Royce), the album appends pop song structure and stickier hooks to the band's eclecticism. A romantic reggae sound helped "Cuando Te Veo" blow up on Colombia radio, but Chocquibtown knows its roots: The title track, which means "the same one," is an unapologetic rap-dance blend fueled by ­marimbas, horns and a celebration of black Pacific culture: "They don't know how good I feel, they don't know all I represent," sings Martinez. It's a tricky tightrope to dance down, but Chocquibtown does it well.

This story originally appeared in the May 30 issue of Billboard.