If there ever was a perfect soundtrack for a California road-trip, Bang Data's latest album, LOCO, would totally fit the bill. Bay area singer-rapper-songwriter Deuce Eclipse and multi-instrumentalist Juan Manuel Caipo have been making music together since 2008. Their music is deeply atmospheric, so it's not surprising that it can often be heard in commercials and TV shows (they've been featured on Breaking Bad, Lucha Underground, and Criminal Minds Beyond Borders, to mention just a few). LOCO, their third studio album, moves seamlessly through a series of dance-worthy beats permeated by classic Latin grooves that have long informed the duo's roots — Caipo's family hails from Peru, and Deuce's family is from Nicaragua.
The result is a particularly vibrant blend of Cali-style pan-Latinx production, with shades of reggae, cumbia and dancehall, a touch of cholo strut, all driven by bilingual rhymes and surf-infused rock n' roll.
Yet as incredibly potent and dance-floor friendly as that mix gets, LOCO's lyrics are often political and demand reflection without preaching. The music's focus is squarely on the individuals who have helped make America great — ancestors, natives, immigrants — and telling the stories of la raza, the Latinx community.
In immigrant love tune "Candy", the music bounces upbeat over rhythmic guitar licks and driving horns as lyrics share the story of romance gone awry in times of tough immigration laws. A lovelorn deportee vows that borders notwithstanding, he will find a way to return to his job and his true love.
"Memoria" takes on some of the same themes as "Candy," but mixes in spoken word and chants, as different individual tales of strife are laid upon the melancholic trumpet of Ozomatli's Asdru Sierra. We are encouraged to "change the channel" and make change come about through love.
And one of the most danceable tunes, "Aquí no se gana, pero se goza," highlights the folk-rock beats of Grammy-nominated Nicaraguan band, La Cuneta Son Machin as it encourages all to enjoy life despite the fact that things go "up and down like a yoyo."
Serving up a funky and folkloric mix that transitions as easily between musical flavors and textures as Deuce Eclipse shuttles back and forth from English to Spanish, Bang Data's music takes off where the proud tradition of Ritchie Valens' and Los Lobos' "La Bamba" left off — at the forefront of a new American roots music with an eternal message: no matter how tough the going gets, la raza survives because we never forget to dance.