Robert Christgau: Dean of American Rock Critics

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Consumer Guide Album

Doctor Nativo: Guatemaya [Stonetree, 2018]
His Cuban-born father killed circa 1990 in Guatemala's long and in crucial respects ongoing civil war, Guatemalan vocalist-guitarist Nativo defines his robust cumbia-reggae fusion as Mayan music, Africanized with the Garifuna styles of nearby Belize and bent on "social justice for his nation's indigenous majority." Moodwise it recalls upful French-Basque internationalist Manu Chao. But it's less yielding, with a groove that stomps. Although my tiny store of Spanish didn't suss out any language more specific than "Babylon," the translations on his website pit doctors against dictators, equate bureaucrats with politicians with cops, and call Bolivian comrades "B-boys." Yes his music is upful. But it's also ready to fight. A-