Tommy Guerrero got his start on the skateboarding circuit, joining Powell Peralta in 1985 and becoming a member of the legendary Bones Brigade team, before becoming a well-known designer, entrepreneur and musician. His previous musical offerings have achieved critical success, but it would still be easy to chalk this music thing up to being solely for the purpose of vanity and posturing. Music stores are full of overpaid athletes who believe their success in their sport is enough to entice people to buy their record. Thankfully, that’s not the case with Guerrero.
His sample-based, mostly instrumental Soul Food Taqueria is a stellar follow-up to 2000’s A Little Bit of Somethin’ and proves he’s more than just another athlete-musician. Soul Food also proves he’s come a long way from Free Beer, his mid-’80s skate-rock band. The tracks are an exploration into soulful, bass-heavy trip-hop that combines a lot of twists and sweeps through many genres and styles.
Guerrero works hard to blend the soul of the ’70s with his Latin roots, and the songs are inspired by a retro vibe. He’s talented enough to expertly explore other styles of music: ’70s-style R&B, samba, Latin, drum and bass. “Thank You (MK)” is soft and sensuous, with odes to the tropics and a lush guitar arrangement that’s reminiscent of Brazilian greats including Gilberto and Getz.
“It Gets Heavy” is a moody track that features Guerrero and Gresham Taylor on vocals; it’s reminiscent of trip-hop master Tricky. It has that same subtle sensuality in the music, and the song’s lyrics are socially conscious but thought-provoking. His style is lo-fi, quiet and understated, with few tricks of studio wizardry.
Little is needed to sell the groove he’s pushing; Guerrero is oozing soul in every track. He’s created his own organic, subterranean blend of bohemian blues, hip-hop and salsa that’s creative and adventurous. His previous releases were less about vocals and more about the music, but he ventures into that territory here. “Getting’ It Together,” the standout track on the record, has vocals by Lyrics Born, and Taylor is also featured on “Organism.”
With more vocals, Guerrero has developed this into a more rounded piece of work, with a smoother, more eclectic ride. Each track offers something different, be it bare-bones folk, blues, funk, soul or Latin. Guerrero has a great talent for keeping things simple while staying inventive making music for the soul. It’s easy to listen to Soul Food Taqueria and be swayed by the rhythms and grooves. This is the perfect soundtrack for the lazy days that hearken back to the end of summer.