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World Music CD Reviews Greater Latin America

Ilegales

By Jill Ettinger

La Republica
Universal Music

Treating the past as sacrosanct—as though “traditional” music itself never evolved, but rather just appeared in perfect, holy form—is a strange and often frustrating mindset of the music business. Dominican supergroup Ilegales experienced lots of criticism for bringing their amped up electronic touch to meringue over a decade ago, but much to their credit, their style has been warmly embraced all throughout Central and South America. And it’s no wonder: The Latin diaspora is thick with cultural variances, blends and hybrids, and Ilegales have their fingers on the pulse of this rapidly changing soundscape, delivering it to their eager listeners with spicy precision. Reggae, merengue, hip-hop, cumbia, bachata and the occasional ballad mesh perfectly on the group’s 11th album (released in late 2006, but still worth revisiting), with tracks like “Me Tienes” highlighting exactly what it means to create “new traditional sounds”—a concept further explored on “OOH Ay,” “La Monta Buena,” and the teenage heartbreak anthem “Matame.”