Olmeca goes beyond race and politics, and creates an album that is unapologetically urban Latinx with a focus on the assets that exist within this community. Olmeca explains the title, “DEFINE is not only a cognate word but, it ultimately depicts through music and lyrics who we are. I’m not about to allow Trump era to depict who we are as a people. Instead, I created an album that does it for us.”
The new album comes on the heels of two impressive features including “El Otro Lado” with Hip-Hop icon Charli 2na and Ozomatli. The new cumbia-flavored song speaks out against racism and xenophobia. The lyrics highlight the struggle of Latinx workers who travel great distances at personal peril to provide for loved ones left behind and encourages you to dance across the border! The second release “La Pared” with KC Porter and Allison Iraheta is a mix of pop and reggaetón stylings. The new song is a pointed cultural critique on the U.S. and Mexico border wall (la pared) and the medieval rhetoric from Donald Trump that is being leveraged as a tactic to divide the United States with the Guatemalan people. Olmeca’s purposeful music is what makes his catalog noteworthy and has us thirsting to hear more from his album.
On Define, he gracefully blends English and Spanish highlighting the two culturally rich musical worlds and continues to evolve his trademark sound, blending Latin American Afro-Indigenous rhythms into trap. A fusion of live music from the Fender Rhodes, Hammond, Farfisa organs, guitar chords along side solos with 808s, golden era hip-hop breaks, trap and 6/8 rhythms set the stage for the new album. And he also channels the classic soul and ballad music of the 1970’s and 80’s he grew up on, influences from Los Solitarios, Los Bukis, Bronco and more, are palpable. All overlaid with Olmeca rapping in numerous cadences, singing, and spitting fire poetry truly takes Define to the next level.
The twelve track deep album was recorded in Olmeca’s studio Alternative Future in Las Vegas and finished in Chicago with co-producer Alex Chavez of Dos Santos at JamDek Studio. Olmeca also enlists musicians from L.A.s afro–tropical ensemble, “Buyepongo”, and psychedelic cumbia soul band from Chicago, “Dos Santos.” The new album took 3 years to create with Olmeca’s collaborative nature, he flew to and from L.A., Las Vegas and Chicago to write, record and produce the new album.
Define is filled with standout tracks including the self title single which has so far received critical accolades from tastemakers like Complex, NPR Alt. Latino and Noisey! The second single released off the new album, “La Balacera” is a song about violence and the trauma it leaves behind. It quickly became a fan favorite appearing on numerous Spotify. Both singles were accompanied by stunning music video capturing the essence of each song, check “Define” and “La Balacera” on YouTube. And keep an eye out for more videos dropping throughout the year.
Olmeca is considered one of the most successful independent artists who can coexist between hip-hop in English and Spanish and according to Noisey, “directly responsible for Spanglish music being a thing.” Critical acclaim has followed Olmeca and most recently he was awarded the Kennedy Center Artist Fellowship in 2019, an honor given to only 8 artists every year throughout the country. Multi-talented musician and artist, Olmeca has also had a presence in documentaries such as PBS Independent Lens and Two Americans, a film about immigration problems in Arizona. He has also written music for hit television shows such including Sons of Anarchy, CHANCE on HULU and the new series The Mayans on FX. He is due to hit the road and will be gracing stages in Los Angeles, Las Vegas, Chicago and more; follow his tour dates here.
2. The Hope
3. El Solitario
4. La Balacera
5. La Vela
6. The Break
7. The Fire
8. The Message
9. El Frio
10. The Change
11. La Familia
12. La Ultima