Today New York-based Latinx quartet Combo Chimbita have shared “Babalawo“, their newest single and its accompanying video, which is out now via ANTI-.
The track brings us on a modern journey through the literary legacy of Plato’s Cave with multidisciplinary artist Edrimael Delgado Reyes.”Interpreting this song was a challenge, it has so much power and energy for me to embody through my movement,” said Delgado Reyes.”My hope is that people experience the joy and intensity I felt while dancing.”
“We debuted ‘Babalawo’ when we played with Sun Ra Arkestra and it’s become a favorite song from our set,” said guitarist Niño Lento. “It has some hints of trap, a bit of rock, but also carries influences from Haitian music and sounds. Carolina’s lyrics are also important since they describe some of our first encounters with Regla de Ocha (often known as Santeria). These intimate moments of spiritual guidance are incredibly important to us as a band with decolonial aspirations.”
In Plato’s Cave, the band draw connections to a complacent society which feeds off the status quo until realising there’s more to life. In the video, Delgado Reyes journeys through those same shadows and fear toward a realm of enlightenment where we see our combatant radiating through the fire with a defiant performance.
“This song narrates a dream I had in which an Eggun (deceased person) assuaged my fears and encouraged me to continue down my path,” said lead singer Carolina Oliveras. “They said ‘Ponte pa lo tuyo,’ a directive to follow that which is already mine — a message I felt important to share forward … While it may seem that this song is dedicated to a particular Babalawo (similar to a priest in a Yoruban context), it’s also an homage to the many teachers who form the Yoruban culture and religion around me and continue to inspire a deeper exploration from me.”
The collaboration was conceived by Oscar Diaz, who directed and produced this video as an ongoing auto-fictional narrative series with prominent Puerto Rican queer artists. “Edrimael, as the father of the vogue and ballroom scene in Puerto Rico, plays such a pivotal role as a visionary mentor for the trans and queer community,” Diaz explained. “I find there’s a secular parallel to a Babalawo who may lend wisdom and guidance for a path forward. Edrimael uses his body as a site of resistance and community building, paving the way for many trans and queer folks to lean into bold refusals of the colonial and patriarchal violence on the island.”
Combo Chimbita combine folkloric mystique, otherworldly psychedelia, and a dash of enigmatic punk in their music. Comprised of Carolina Oliveros’ mesmeric contralto, illuminating storytelling and fierce guacaracha rhythms, Prince of Queens’ hypnotic synth stabs and grooving bass lines, Niño Lento’s imaginative guitar licks, and Dilemastronauta’s powerful drumming, the lure and lore of Combo Chimbita comes into existence.
The legend begins with their first EP, 2016’s El Corredor del Jaguar, and followed up with the occult psychedelia of Abya Yala. In 2019’s Ahomale, the New York-by-way-of-Colombia troupe fuse the perennial rhythms of the Afro-Latinx diaspora with a modern-day consciousness, while tracing the prophetic traditions of their ancestry. More will come from Combo Chimbita later this year too.