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Arts & Culture

Songs We Love: ¡ESSO! Afrojam Funkbeat, 'Mi Gente'


At a time when we've seen consecutive natural disasters pummel places such as Texas, Puerto Rico and Mexico, it's sometimes difficult to see beyond the incredible pain and images of destruction.

But just when you think that mother nature's force has become too much to bear, you hear a story about strangers lifting each other or unlikely heroes emerging from the trauma. And it's in these times when songs like "Mi Gente" from Chicago's ¡ESSO! Afrojam Funkbeat remind us that "Solo la gente cuando está unida puede moverse." Only when people are united can they move forward.

The timely bilingual song from the nine-piece outfit's new album Juntos, exudes an old-school hip hop sensibility with a fresh feel featuring Latin percussion and MCs who bring various flows to the multi-layered track. "Mi Gente" exemplifies what can happen when a truly diverse band comes together.

ESSO, which got its start as a house band in downtown Chicago, is made up of musicians with Mexican, Puerto Rican, Irish, Italian, Jewish, Colombian and African American roots.

In "Mi Gente," three distinct narrative storytelling techniques are all woven together to offer a message of understanding and hope, which echoes the album's larger themes. The band's music also serves as a good antidote to the anti-immigrant rhetoric that's grown ever louder.

And as we take in some of the events happening around us, sometimes it's best to find the musical chord, like the song suggests, that unites us all.

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