The Cuban Brothers Present Yo Bonita (Review)
Review by Jack Foley
FROM humble beginnings Miguel Mantovani, Archerio Mantovani and Kengo San have built Los Hermanos Cubanos – aka The Cuban Brothers – into a legendary outfit that continuously sells out shows across the globe.
Now, they release their hip new album Yo Bonita, a raw collection of sinewy funk and heavy beats that unusually for a dance album eschews building tracks around samples in favour of a real band dynamic.
Hence, the aim is to provide the collection of original tracks and inspired covers a groove that is undeniably infectious and has been achieved with the help of some interesting vocalists, including Mica Paris, KT Tunstall, Kurtis Blow, Tenor Fly and the legendary Omar.
The tracks, too, span multiple genres, from old skool hip-hop to ’70s disco and funk, through to heavy metal and pop, all imbued with The Cuban Brothers own distinct style.
Hence, a track like Mike 4 President contains elements of classic hip-hop (circa Grandmaster Flash and early Beastie Boys) mixed with classic Bee Gees and South American percussion. It’s a heady brew and totally cool, a highlight.
One track earlier, Roll Call (featuring Kurtis Blow and Abdominal) also subscribes to old school hip hop values and has a nice retro vibe.
Lights Out is pure funk, complete with stabs of brass, So Sweet has an almost Jackson 5-style element to its instrumental components and a silky smooth vocal from Mica Paris, and Misdemenor provides a smart, stylish cover of the Foster Sylvers’ number given some contemporary edge that Scissor Sisters would be proud of.
The Under Dog is another slick fusion of James Brown-inspired funk and smooth groove soul and Got To Give The People a Stevie Wonder-infused take on the O’Jays classic that feels especially sharp.
There are a couple of disappointments… KT Tunstall’s duet on We Must Be In Love being one (it’s too straight-forward a ballad) and the reggae-inflicted Get It Right is another.
A couple of the other later tracks fail to generate the excitement or layered surprises that songs like Mike 4 President deliver early on.
But more often than not, tracks that underwhelm are quickly followed by those that impress. And in Ace of Spades it has a final joker in the pack… a Cuban infused makeover that strips away the heavy elements to successful effect. You’ll be getting those hips swaying.
Hence, in the main the album works in providing a wonderful celebration of all things Cuban Brothers. It’s a fun party record that combines the familiar with the unique, relayed in confident, cross-genre appealing style.
Download picks: Mike 4 President, Lights Out, So Sweet, Misdemenor, Got To Give The People, Ace of Spades
Watch the video for Mike 4 President: