Narcocorrido

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Narcocorrido
Stylistic origins Mariachi
Ranchera
Polka
Norteño
Banda
Cultural origins Early 20th century Mexico
Typical instruments Accordion
Acoustic guitar
Trumpet
Tuba
Bajo Sexto
Drums
Vocals
Derivative forms Corridos Alterados
Corridos Progressivos
Regional scenes
Mexico (with origins in the states of Sinaloa, Chihuahua, Zacatecas, Durango, Jalisco, Guanajuato, and Michoacán)

United States (notably in the states of California, Texas, Arizona, and Nevada)

Central America (notably in Honduras and Guatemala)

South America (notably in Colombia, Peru, and Bolivia)

A narco-corrido (Spanish pronunciation: [narkokoˈriðo], Drug Ballad) is a sub-genere of the Mexican norteño-corrido (northern ballad) music genere, a traditional folk music from northern Mexico, from which other several genres have evolved. This type of music is heard on both sides of the US–Mexican border. It uses a danceable, accordion-based polka as a rhythmic base. The first corridos that focus on drug smugglers—the narco comes from "narcotics"—have been dated by Juan Ramírez-Pimienta to the 1930s. Early corridos (non-narco) go back as far to the Mexican Revolution of 1910, telling the stories of revolutionary fighters. Music critics have also compared narcocorrido music to gangster rap.[1][2]

Narcocorrido lyrics refer to particular events and include real dates and places.[3] The lyrics tend to speak approvingly of illegal activities such as murder, torture, racketeering, extortion, drug smuggling, illegal immigration, and sometimes political protest due to government corruption.[citation needed]

History[edit]

This genre of music is the evolution of traditional corrido ballads of the Mexican-US border region, which stemmed from the 16th-century Spanish genre of romance. Among the earliest exponents of narcocorrido music were Los Alegres de Teran, who recorded many. In the 1980s, Rosalino "Chalino" Sánchez contributed to narcocorridos. Known throughout Mexico as "El Pelavacas" (Cow Skin Peeler), El Indio (The Indian, from his corrido "El Indio Sánchez"), and "Mi Compa" (My Friend), Chalino was a Mexican immigrant living in Los Angeles. He then began distributing his music for a sale price. His lyrics composed of heartbreak, revolution, and socioeconomic issues. Soon he was selling mass copies. Chalino Sánchez was murdered in 1992 after a concert in Culiacán. In death, he became a legend and one of the most influential Mexican musicians to emerge from California, he was known throughout Mexico and United States as El Rey del Corrido (The King of the Corrido).[4]

Various companies, governmental agencies, and individuals have sought to ban narcocorridos. These attempts include a voluntary radio station black-out in Baja California. Representative Casio Carlos Narváez explained that radio executives did not want to make "people who break the laws of our country into heroes and examples". Former President of Mexico Vicente Fox also proposed banning narcocorridos.[5] On the other hand, former Mexican foreign secretary Jorge Castaneda has argued that "corridos are attempts by Mexican society to come to terms with the world around them...You cannot blame narcocorridos for drug violence. Drug violence is to blame for narcocorridos".[6]

Violence in narcocorrido industry[edit]

Between 2006 and 2008, over a dozen prominent Mexican musicians, many of them connected to the narcocorrido genre, were murdered. The violence came in the midst of the Mexican drug war. The most popular musicians killed were Valentín Elizalde, and Sergio Gómez, the lead singer of Chicago-based Duranguense band K-Paz de la Sierra. In December 2007, both men were nominated posthumously for Grammy Awards in the banda category.[7] On June 26, 2010, Sergio Vega, known as El Shaka, was gunned down in Sinaloa state. He was shot dead only hours after he had denied reports of his own murder.[8] Ramiro Caro, Gerardo Ortiz's Manager and cousin was also killed when Gerardo Ortiz's Chevy Suburban was attacked by men with AK-47's at an attempt to kill Gerardo Ortiz. Gerardo Ortiz escaped unhurt but Ramiro Caro was killed.[9]

Other murdered music industry figures include Javier Morales Gómez a singer for Los Implacables del Norte, four members of Tecno Banda Fugaz, four members of Los Padrinos de la Sierra, Zayda Peña, singer for Zayda Y Los Culpables, trumpeter José Luis Aquino of Los Conde, record producer Marco Abdalá, manager Roberto del Fierro Lugo, Jorge Antonio Sepúlveda, Jesús Rey David Alfaro Pulido, Nicolás Villanueva of tropical group Brisas del Mar, and four members of Los Herederos de Sinaloa. Three members of Explosión Norteña were shot and wounded in Tijuana in August 2006. In October 2010 the singer Fabian Ortega Pinon (El Halcon de la Sierra) was executed along with two other victims in Guerrero, Chihuahua.[citation needed]

While few if any arrests have been made in these cases, experts and musicians themselves say that the murders can be explained by many Mexican musicians’ proximity to drug traffickers.[10] Some speculate the killings could be related to romantic disputes and jealousy.[11] Others cite cases in which a musician writes a song praising or criticizing a drug trafficker. Many assert that Valentín Elizalde's murder, for example, was related to a song of his, "A Mis Enemigos," which some interpreted as an attack on the Gulf Cartel following its appearance in a widespread YouTube video.[12]

There has been debate over the motives behind the killings and over to whether the media has exaggerated the trend. Narcocorrido expert Elijah Wald has disputed the assumption that any of the murders were related or that musicians on the whole are targets for drug traffickers.[13] But given the grisly nature of the murders, some of which were accompanied by torture and disfigurement, few doubt that drug cartel hitmen are to blame.

In the wake of the high-profile murders of Elizalde and Gómez, among others, some prominent corrido musicians postponed concert dates in certain parts of Mexico.[14] Many Mexican American narco corridor singers have limited their tours into high violent cities in Mexico. While inside the United States many travel with relatively ease and security. Many take extra precautions while venturing into Mexico by hiring extra security, traveling in well-guarded caravans and not being as open to the public in larger concerts. Others have said they are afraid to sing narcocorridos in public for fear of offending the wrong person.[10] Likewise, some vendors of narcocorrido CDs have reported low sales, citing fear among listeners of buying a CD featuring songs favoring one group of traffickers over another.[10] This fears once thought silly and over paranoid have become very real as Mexico has become the most dangerous country not only for journalist but for anyone who speaks up or is affiliated with the opposing cartel. The Zetas cartel has been known to torture and kill online and Social media bloggers who speak about them. In one incident the tortured and mutilated body of a man and a woman were found hanging of a bridge in the city of Nuevo León in September 2011. A sign stating “"This is going to happen to all the Internet busybodies," was found next to them signed with the letter Z.[15]

Narcocorridos and their lyrical content[edit]

Since music plays an important role and major influence in the narco culture, the following "rolas" (songs) have been tagged as "anthems" for such nature and have been banned from airplay in Mexico and parts of the United States. However, the banning has failed in Mexico because the music is somewhat still displayed and available on the web for listening and downloading. Pirated (Bootleg) copies of this music are sold in the "tianguis" (outdoor markets) at affordable prices.

Narcocorridos describe the lives of the poor, destitute and of those who seek power through violent means. Like hip-hop and rap music, narcocorridos are listened to by a large portion of Spanish speakers who greatly vary in age and is widely popular among people who are not associated with cartels or gangs. The genre is becoming mainstream in many Spanish speaking countries in recent years; it is now entering countries like Guatemala, Honduras, Colombia, Peru and Bolivia, countries which at first had never heard of the genre in the past but are now playing the music on an everyday basis. Some performers have composed songs either dedicated to or paying tribute to some of the world's most controversial characters (besides drug cartel leaders), from Pancho Villa to communist revolutionary Che Guevara and even terrorist Osama Bin Laden.

Examples of such anthems include:

  • "En Preparacion" (In Preparation) (a song that refers to the life of violent cartel leader Manuel Torres known as "El Ondeado", brother of Javier Torres known as "El J.T.") by Gerardo Ortiz
  • "El Señor de los Cielos" (The Lord of the Skies) by El As de la Sierra
  • "A Mis Enemigos" (To All My Enemies) by Valentín Elizalde
  • "El Coco" (The coke head) by El Halcon de la Sierra
  • "Caballos del Pantanal" (refers to the "Boeing 727" aircraft) by Grupo Laberinto
  • "Cuerno de Chivo" ("Goat's Horn", Spanish slang/term that refers to the AK-47 assault riffle.) by Los Huracanes del Norte
  • "Mis Tres Animales" (My Three Animals) refers to the 3 main types of narcotics. by Los Tucanes de Tijuana
  • "El Macho Prieto" (a supposed tribute to drug trafficker Gonzalo Inzunza Inzunza) by Luis Salomon El Arremangado
  • "Ajustes Inzunza" (Retaliations Inzunza) by Colmillo Norteño
  • "La Vida Mafiosa" (The Mafia Life) by Los Canelos de Durango
  • "El Chapo Guzmán" (a supposed tribute to drug lord Joaquín "Chapo" Guzmán) by Los Tucanes de Tijuana
  • "El Jefe de Jefes" (The Boss of Bosses) by Los Tigres del Norte
  • "Chuy y Mauricio" (Chuy and Mauricio) by Los Canelos de Durango
  • "Chingon de Chingones" (The Badass of Badasses) by Los Razos de Sacramento y Reynaldo
  • "Los Duros de Colombia" (The Colombia Hardhitters) by Gerardo Ortiz
  • "Carteles Unidos" (United Cartels) by Edicion de Culiacan/Edicion Norteña
  • "El Sr. Mayo Zambada" (Mr. Mayo Zambada) (a song dedicated to another one of Mexico's dangerous cartel leaders, Ismael "Mayo" Zambada) by Enigma Norteño.
  • " El Regreso Del Chapo (The Coming of El Chapo)by El Komander
  • " Pancho Loco(Crazy Person)by Roberto Tapia

This verse of the song "El Cabron" (2005) by Los Capos is an example of typical narcocorrido subject matter.

Original Spanish verse:

Desde que yo era chiquillo tenia fintas de cabron; ya le pegaba al perico, y a la mota con más razón
Es que en mi México lindo Ahí cualquiera es cabron

Exact English translation:

Ever since I was a lad [child] I had the fame of a badass, already hittin' the parrot [cocaine] and blowing dope [cannabis] with more reason
It's because in my beloved Mexico anyone there is a badass.

On TV and in other media[edit]

In the third season of The Shield, the episode entitled "Safe", a narcocorrido is found. It was a song about an unrequited love, and the man killed her. However, several bodies are found, from meth lab exposure. Later evidence proves that she is alive and living with the boyfriend, so the narcocorrido turned out to be fake. The detectives use the corridos albums to close cases from stories that are true.

In the 2005 episode "Snakes", CSI: Crime Scene Investigation took on the subject of narcocorridos. In it, a freelance reporter who has gone undercover in the narcocorrido-producing subculture is killed over an article critical of the genre.

In the 7th episode of the 20th season of Law & Order, a narcocorrido is used as evidence in a murder.

In 2008, the Fox TV show America's Most Wanted had also mentioned the genre while depicting the case of a wanted criminal that is wanted for murder and trafficking. This wanted individual may be traveling back and forth between Mexico and the United States.

The 7th episode of the 2nd season of Breaking Bad opens by sampling Negro Y Azul, a narcocorrido by Los Cuates de Sinaloa, cowritten by Vince Gilligan, inspired by the events depicted in the series.[16][17]

On the radio, airplay of narcocorridos has increased in recent years. Artists such as Larry Hernandez, El Compa Chuy, and El Potro de Sinaloa, and songs such as "El Katch", "El Piloto Canavis (The Cannabis Pilot)", and "El Señor de la Hummer (The Man with the Hummer)" have increased the genre's popularity. Listener requests have helped to overcome radio stations' reluctance.[18]

Growing popularity in the United States[edit]

Unlike in the years before, many of the new narco corridos music is being aimed directly at the American Market. Like many other concerts or sport events many of the corridor artist are choosing American cities as venues for the ability to fill the concert halls at higher ticket prices than would be affordable by the average Mexican citizen. Many of the music and CDs are distributed through American labels as well as videos intended solely to be sold in the United States.

The growing popularity of the music in the U.S. is correlated with Mexican immigration. Over a quarter of the residents of the Los Angeles area are now Mexican, and they have brought their music with them. Narcocorridos are now played in L.A. clubs, on radio stations, and do not have the negative stigma attached to them by some in Mexico.[19]

Films[edit]

Academic articles and books[edit]

  • Astorga, Luis: Mitología del traficante en México. México: UNAM / Plaza y Valdés, 1995.
  • Astorga, Luis (2005). "Corridos de traficantes y censura". Región y Sociedad 17 (32): 145–65. 
  • Astorga, L. (1997). "Los corridos de traficantes de drogas en México y Colombia". Revista Mexicana de Sociolog 59 (4): 245–261. doi:10.2307/3541131. JSTOR 3541131. 
  • Cabañas, Miguel A (2008). "El narcocorrido global y las identidades transnacionales". Revista de Estudios Hispánicos (in Spanish) 42 (3): 519–42. ISSN 0034-818X. 
  • Cabañas, Miguel A. (2008). "Lo popular transnacional: el narcocorrido como género musical en los Estados Unidos, México y Colombia". In Moret, Zulema. Intersecciones: Abordajes de lo popular en América Latina. pp. 89–101. OCLC 468040146. 
  • Edberg, Mark Cameron (2004). El Narcotraficante: Narcocorridos & The Construction of a Cultural Persona on the U.S.-Mexican Border. Austin: University of Texas Press. ISBN 978-0-292-70206-6. 
  • Flores y Escalante, Jesús (2003). "El narcocorrido: Tradición sin tiempo ni frontera". Somos (in Spanish) 13 (228): 72–9. 
  • Herrera-Sobek, María (1979). "The Theme of Smuggling in the Mexican Corrido". Revista Chicano Riqueña 7 (4): 4961. 
  • Nicolopulos, James (2006). "The Problematic Question of the Earliest Narcocorridista: Manuel C. Valdez or Juan Gaytán?". In de V. Renwick, Roger; Rieuwerts, Sigrid. Ballad Mediations: Folksongs Recovered, Represented and Reimagined. Traer: WVT Wissenschaftlicher Verlag Traer. pp. 51–7. ISBN 978-3-88476-819-8. 
  • Quinones, Sam (2001). True Tales from Another Mexico: The Lynch Mob, the Popsicle Kings, Chalino, and the Bronx. Albuquerque: University of New México Press. ISBN 978-0-8263-2296-8. 
  • Ramírez-Pimienta, Juan Carlos.Cantar a los narcos. voces y versos del narcocorrido. México: Editorial Planeta, 2011.

“De torturaciones, balas y explosiones: Narcocultura, Movimiento Alterado e hiperrealismo en el sexenio de Felipe Calderón." A Contracorriente: Journal of Social History and Literature in Latin America. (Refereed scholarly e-journal). Vol. 10, No. 3 (Spring 2013): 302-334. http://acontracorriente.chass.ncsu.edu/index.php/acontracorriente/article/view/570/1192#.UmXjVflJOSo

  • Ramírez-Pimienta, Juan Carlos (2011). "El narcocorrido religioso: usos y abusos de un género". Studies in Latin American Popular Culture 29: 184. doi:10.1353/sla.2011.0016. 
  • Ramírez-Pimienta, Juan Carlos (2010). "Los corridos de Juan Meneses: dos antecedentes tempranos del narcocorrido en la frontera México-Estados Unidos". Aztlán: A Journal of Chicano Studies 35 (2): 89–113. 
  • Ramírez-Pimienta, Juan Carlos. “Sicarias, buchonas y jefas: perfiles de la mujer en el narcocorrido.” The Colorado Review of Hispanic Studies. Volume 8 - 9 (2010-2011): 311-336.
  • Ramírez-Pimienta, Juan Carlos.“Doscientos años de corrido y algunos menos de narcocultura.” Conciencia mexicana: Bicentenario de la independencia y centenario de la Revolución. Rodrigo Pereyra Espinoza, ed. Edinburg: Céfiro Press, 2010.
  • Ramírez-Pimienta, Juan Carlos. "Del corrido de narcotráfico al narcocorrido: Orígenes y desarrollo del canto a los traficantes." Studies in Latin American Popular Culture. Special issue on border culture. XXIII (2004):21-41.
  • Ramírez-Pimienta, Juan Carlos. "Búsquenme en el Internet: Características del narcocorrido finisecular." Ciberletras # 11. Special issue "End of 20th Century Mexican Literature". (July, 2004)
  • Ramírez-Pimienta, Juan Carlos. "El corrido de narcotráfico en los años ochenta y noventa: un juicio moral suspendido". The Bilingual Review/ La Revista Bilingüe. XXIII.2 (May–August 1998): 145-156.
  • Ramírez-Pimienta, Juan Carlos (2010). "En torno al primer narcocorrido: arqueología del cancionero de las drogas". A Contracorriente (in Spanish) 7 (3): 82–99. 
  • Ramírez-Pimienta, Juan. "Chicago lindo y querido si muero lejos de ti: el pasito duranguense, la onda grupera y las nuevas geografías de la identidad popular mexicana." Mexican Studies/Estudios Mexicanos. (2010): 31-45.XXVI.1
  • Ramírez-Pimienta, Juan. De El Periquillo al pericazo: Ensayos sobre literatura y cultura mexicana. Ciudad Juárez: Universidad Autónoma de Ciudad Juárez Press 2006.
  • Simonett, H. (2001). "Narcocorridos: An Emerging Micromusic of Nuevo L. A". Ethnomusicology (University of Illinois Press) 45 (2): 315–337. doi:10.2307/852677. JSTOR 852677. 
  • Wald, Elijah. Narcocorrido: Un viaje al mundo de la música de las drogas, armas, y guerrilleros. Nueva York: Rayo, 2001
  • Wellinga, Klaas. "Cantando a los traficantes."Foro Hispánico: Revista Hispánica de los Países Bajos, 22 (2002): 137-54.
  • Villalobos, J. P.; Ramirez-Pimienta, J. C. (2004). "Corridos and la Pura Verdad: Myths and Realities of the Mexican Ballad". South Central Review 21 (3): 129–149. doi:10.1353/scr.2004.0050. JSTOR 40039894. 

References[edit]

  1. ^ Ramírez-Pimienta, Juan Carlos (2004). "Del corrido de narcotráfico al narcocorrido: Orígenes y desarrollo del canto a los traficantes". Studies in Latin American Popular Culture (in Spanish) 23: 21–41. 
  2. ^ Hodgson, Martin (19 September 2004). "Death in the midday sun". Observer Music Monthly. Manchester Guardian. Retrieved August 29, 2012. 
  3. ^ Musica Regional Mexicana para toda la Plebada! | Corridos | Musica Nortena | Musica de Banda | Musica Duranguense | Mexican Music[not in citation given]
  4. ^ Quinones, Sam (2001). True Tales from Another Mexico. Albuquerque: University of New Mexico Press. ISBN 978-0-8263-2296-8. [page needed]
  5. ^ Wald, Elijah. "Corrido Censorship: A Brief History". [self-published source?]
  6. ^ Kun, Josh. "Minstrels in the Court of the Kingpin". Template:Date=March 7, 2010
  7. ^ "Murdered Mexican trumpeter 3rd musician killed in a week". CBC News. 7 December 2007. 
  8. ^ Johnston, Lauren (June 28, 2010). "Famed Mexican singer Sergio Vega shot dead hours after denying reports he'd been murdered". Daily News. Retrieved 2013-10-24. 
  9. ^ "Intentan ejecutar a cantante; mueren su representante y chofer | Noticias De Colima | La Policiaca - La Nota Roja De Mexico". La Policiaca. Retrieved 2013-10-24. 
  10. ^ a b c [1][dead link]
  11. ^ Roig-Franzia, Manuel (26 December 2007). "The Savage Silencing of Mexico's Musicians". The Washington Post. 
  12. ^ Roig-Franzia, Manuel (9 April 2007). "Mexican Drug Cartels Leave a Bloody Trail on YouTube". The Washington Post. 
  13. ^ Christgau, Robert (2008-04-13). "Shock! Horror! Narcocorrido! - ARTicles". Najp.org. Retrieved 2013-10-24. 
  14. ^ Sara Miller Llana (2008-04-07). "Odes to Mexican drug gangs lose their appeal". CSMonitor.com. Retrieved 2013-10-24. 
  15. ^ Elizabeth Llorente, “Cartel Kills Two People Who Used Social Media to Write About Gang Violence”. Fox news Latino, September 15, 2011.
  16. ^ Gajewski, Josh (26 April 2009). "'Breaking Bad' crosses over into narcocorrido territory". Chicago Tribune. 
  17. ^ "Q&A - Los Cuates de Sinaloa (Narcocorrido Band)". AMCTV Breaking Bad blog. 
  18. ^ Leila Cobo, "Beyond Borders", Billboard, 10 October 2009, Vol. 121 Issue 40, p52.
  19. ^ Elijah Wald, "Narcocorrido: A Journey into the Music of Drugs, Guns, and Guerrillas," HarperCollins, 2001, 131-132, 137.

Further reading[edit]

External links[edit]