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Latino music: Adassa strives to keep her sound fresh

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SAN ANTONIO -- Pop singer Adassa says her latest album, "Kamasutra," a wild mix of reggaeton, hip-hop, R&B and dance hall, is something new.

"I like my music to be real fresh for everybody to be able to hear it," she said in a recent interview from Miami during a promotional stop. "It's directed to the kids, to the young teens, to everybody. It doesn't matter how old you are or how young you are.

"I like to be able to have freshness in my music. Just like what I listen to in my own car, I make my own mix tapes of the CDs that I like."

Adassa's "mix-tape" approach means "Kamasutra" ranges in styles, but the bottom line is that it's all highly danceable. From the thick bass lines on the reggaeton tunes "De Tra" and "Ese Boom" to the hip-hop flavor and attitude on "Without You" and the title track, the music moves.

Adassa just got back from an extensive promotional tour of Japan, where her album was released three weeks ago. She performed at the prestigious Club Areju in Tokyo, while her single, "De Tra," reached No. 1 on the pop charts. The song just debuted at No. 40 on Billboard's Latin Tropical Airplay chart.

"I didn't know how popular it was until we got there," she said. "I didn't even think that it was as big as it was. I also did magazine interviews and all that, and they had translators for me because I didn't understand anything.

"But I loved the culture, I loved the people, so respectful, so disciplined. Musically, I did the show, and everyone was just screaming like at the top of their lungs, and it was hard to believe they were singing it in Spanish."

While it's hard to pin her down musically, Adassa's main base is urban R&B and reggaeton. Key collaborators on "Kamasutra," her second CD, included Miami rapper Pitbull and reggaeton heavy hitters Raby Rasta y Gringo.

Adassa -- whose roots are Colombian though she was born in Miami and raised in the Virgin Islands -- is just one of the many new faces in reggaeton, Latino rap and urban regional coming from a broad array of regions and backgrounds. Yet they all share the approach of taking traditional rhythms and reinvigorating them with new melodies for a fresh sound.

In recent years, top-tier artists such as Daddy Yankee, Tego Calderon, Ivy Queen, Pitbull, Akwid and others began topping the charts with dance-friendly hits. Like most new groups, they struggled underground for a few years before record sales and packed dance halls helped bring them into the charts and bigger venues.

Adassa also is part of reggaeton's latest trend -- reggaeton remixes of straight-ahead pop tracks.

"Nada Es Para Siempre," the new romantic single by Luis Fonsi, has a reggaeton remix featuring Adassa.

Fonsi told Billboard that remixing a "cut-your-veins ballad" for the dance floor sounded strange. "But the way they did it gave the song a new breath of fresh air that has made it work really well," he said.

Other big remixes, including some that are charting in Billboard, are Shakira's "La Tortura," Thalia's "Amar Sin Ser Amada" and Aventura's track "Ella y Yo," featuring reggaeton star Don Omar.

For Adassa, the music mishmash is just natural.

"Yeah, the album is an urban album. It has reggaeton and R&B.

So it has a little bit of that feel, everything that the music is right now," she said. "I grew up listening to that music.

"Growing up in the islands, you listen to everything like Shabba Ranks, Shaggy, Sean Paul, Beanie Man. At the same time, you listen to ... L.L. Cool J and Mary J., and even Celia Cruz."

Her music draws fromall those elements.

"I just kind of got them and combined them all with the urban feel that I love, and that's what 'Kamasutra' turned out to be," she said.

Like her CD mix tapes, Adassa says she loves musical fusion.

"I take some Mariah (Carey), I take some (Toni) Braxton, along with Marques Houston and B2K, but at the same time mix it up with some 50 Cent or whatever, and have the variation of music that I like to listen to in my car," she said. "I wanted to make a record that you didn't have to change, you didn't just listen to two songs, you just let the whole thing play."



c.2005 San Antonio Express-News

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