Narco corridos ("drug ballads")
November 26, 2001 10:24 AM   Subscribe

Narco corridos ("drug ballads"), the modern variant of the traditional Mexican corrido, are often likened to gangsta rap-- the songs tend to glorify drug traffickers, the most famous performers are mysteriously murdered, and Mexican radio stations have banned them entirely, hoping to curb drug-related violence. (And while I must sheepishly admit that I hadn't even heard of them until I heard this segment--an interview with Elijah Wald[RA link] on NPR last week, I'm now obsessed.)
posted by cowboy_sally (9 comments total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
Here's a good piece from the Village Voice (earlier this year) about Narcocorrido stars Los Tigres Del Norte.
posted by BT at 10:41 AM on November 26, 2001

Here's some narcocorridos to listen to.
posted by liam at 1:06 PM on November 26, 2001

Links like this are the reason I love MeFi. Thanks.
posted by muckster at 1:51 PM on November 26, 2001

Vallenato also comes to mind:

Everyday events, passion, eternal love, village folklore, travelogues and miracles blur in the telling; voices crack, crackle with emotion in a music that so influenced Gabriel Garcia Marquez that he once described One Hundred Years of Solitude as a 350 page vallenato.

It's like a pan-Colombian rock now but it began in the Magdalena Grande area of Northeastern Colombia. It's an accordian music and hand drum music that mixed Spanish, black and indian musics. It's really extraordinary--there used to be a wonderful collection on Shanachie called Fiesta Vallenata but they seem to have deleted it for some reason.

It was a rural peasant's music considered low and dirty by the urban bourgeois, involviing lager-than-life singers and accordion players who'd have these all night competitions. With the rise of the marijuan and then cocaine trade, a lot of the drug lords became the patrons of these musicians and organize---and corrupted festivals and competitions.

The only thing I have now that I'd recommend is a wonderful collection recorded by Radio France in their world music series called Colombie - Le Vallenato which has some of the greats of the first generation. The music not very much like corridos but I recommend that CD to anyone. It's much more rootsy than the Shanachie collection--I just love it.

And it's actually the soundtrack of a documentary, right up there with Eat The Document as a must see for me now.

I loved that NPR piece, too, cowboy_sally, and I agree with muckster: this is a great post.
posted by y2karl at 3:33 PM on November 26, 2001

[this is good]

I grew up in a farming town (read: migrant workers) where these performers often play. After I read this post I called my Dad and asked him about this music.

He said he wasn't really into it but all the big names play there and the people love it. My mom manages low income housing for HUD and she said all the kids are into Chalino and play his stuff all the time. In fact she went and got a tape just to hear what these kids were going crazy for.

This all made me laugh because when I was a kid we'd ride our bikes by the dancehalls, and listen through an open door at the oompah-oompah of the bass, thinking it was such happy music.

Very good post, cowboy_sally.
posted by perplexed at 4:01 PM on November 26, 2001

This is a great post. I happened to find the book linked above on a mailing list a couple weeks back, but didn't know the additional history and didn't know how exactly to frame it in a post, but this one is as close to perfect as possible.

And that Chalino Sánchez sounds like quite the badass.
posted by mathowie at 4:08 PM on November 26, 2001

Thanks for the compliments and for the additional links. I was worried that this might be too particular/obscure a topic, and the response made my day (*sigh*...the lonely life of the editor).
posted by cowboy_sally at 4:08 PM on November 26, 2001

By way of background, there's "True Tales From Another Mexico", a newish book about different aspects of contemporary Mexican culture, including a chapter on Chalino.
posted by liam at 6:31 PM on November 26, 2001

Okay, I'm Latina (Mexican, even!) and I had no clue about any of this stuff. Thanks for some fantastic links.
posted by jennak at 10:47 PM on November 26, 2001

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