Combo Chimbita is making some of the most incredibly inspired music in the world right now. The first three singles they’ve dropped this year have explored different traditionalist themes pertinent to their native Colombia. Led by singer Carolina Oliveros’s banshee howl, the explosive “Mujer Jaguar” saw the band yearning for new a new world for the people of their native soil. Signed to Anti- Records and now based in Brooklyn, the band has now released “Babalawo,” the fourth song and accompanying video in the storytelling singles series, and it might just be the most visceral expression yet.
The band initially debuted the song when playing along with famed free jazz outfit Sun Ra Arkestra and have now presented it in a video, centered on Puerto Rican interpretive dancer and queer icon, Edrimael Delgado Reyes, whom director Oscar Diaz calls “the father of the vogue and ballroom scene in Puerto Rico.” Reyes’ movements act as a vessel for a tale of Plato’s cave, where humans in an almost zombie-like state just tow the line of the status quo before finding enlightenment (too real these days). Guitarist Niño Leto expanded on the overall themes of the song in a statement:
“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.”
At a time when marginalized communities are truly getting an opportunity to tell their stories and be acknowledged, but are still facing adversity at every turn, Combo Chimbita is pushing incredible boundaries in keeping these stories at the forefront of their music. The follow-up to 2019’s can’t miss album, Ahomale, has yet to be announced, but songs and videos like “Babalawo” should keep the band’s upcoming output firmly on the radar.
Watch the video for “Babalawo” above.