Reporting on the Mexican Cartel Drug War

Narco Corrido News pt 1

Wednesday, November 24, 2010 |

Here are a few stories that have come out recently about the world of narco corrido singers. I find this topic to be fascinating. The songs are catchy, and some are based on real life events. You can get a basic idea about a narco you've never really heard of; who he is and where he's from, simply by listening to a few of these songs.

This is a two part article and the stories aren't new, but I find them interesting.
-Smurf

Los Tucanes de Tijuana: banned from playing in their own city.


L.A. Times
-- Daniel Hernandez --

8/16/10

Since last November, Los Tucanes de Tijuana, one of the most recognizable bands in the Mexican norteño regional genre, are banned from playing in their hometown and namesake, the border city of Tijuana.

The ban is a result of a 2008 concert in which the band's lead singer sent his regards from the stage to the city's most notorious and wanted men, "El Teo and his compadre, El Muletas." The city's get-tough police chief, Julian Leyzaola, was outraged.

Leyzaola pulled the plug on shows by Los Tucanes as they prepared to perform at the city's storied Agua Caliente racetrack in November. Leyzaola said the band's polka-driven narcocorrido songs glorify drug lords and their exploits and are therefore inappropriate to play in a city that has suffered soaring drug-related violence in recent years. The band, with millions of record sales and a fan base as broad as the international border, hasn't been allowed to play in Tijuana since.

In an interview with Richard Marosi of The Times as they prepared for a show in San Diego (as close to Tijuana as they can currently get), Los Tucanes said they don't intend to glorify narco bosses but instead merely write songs about the realities around them.

"I'm not justifying them, or approving of what they do," singer Mario Quintero told Marosi. "The señor [Leyzaola] shouldn't fault us for the corridos as if we're responsible for the killing of his police."

Authorities in Mexico widely disapprove of norteño bands that sing about the drug trade, banning their songs from radio airwaves and even threatening jail time for narcocorrido producers (link in Spanish). The effort is especially vigilant in Tijuana, as Marosi reported in a story in 2008.

Last year, another iconic norteño band, Los Tigres del Norte, was banned from performing a popular song titled "La Granja" at an awards ceremony in Mexico City. The song's allegorical lyrics are critical of the government's strategy against the drug cartels. Los Tigres del Norte pulled out of the show, inevitably boosting the song's profile among fans.

Narcocorrido singers walk a fine line between merely commenting on the larger-than-life figures in Mexico's drug war and singing their praises -- sometimes at their own risk. Several norteño performers have been hunted down and killed, such as Valentin Elizalde and, in June, Sergio Vega. Some of the most well-known narcocorridos describe news events in coded details, such as the song Los Tucanes de Tijuana released about Joaquin "El Chapo" Guzman, Mexico's most wanted man.

Quintero said the shout-out by Los Tucanes to the then-at-large drug bosses (both El Teo and El Muletas have since been captured) was not an optional thing. He told The Times that someone passed him a note requesting the kingpins be greeted from the stage.

"If they want a greeting and you don't honor it, they can hold it against you," Quintero said. "You know how I defend myself? By being agreeable."

With hits such as "La Chona" and "El Centenario," Los Tucanes de Tijuana are such icons in pop culture that they've even played at the most hallowed site in Mexico, the Zocalo square in Mexico City. Check out this YouTube video of the band performing the romantic "Mundo de Amor" before thousands on the plaza. Here's another Zocalo performance, the song "Los Helados."

After the ban, the band posted a public statement on their MySpace decrying the police chief's decision as censorship: "In general narcocorridos, not only ours but those of all groups who interpret them, reflect a reality in which we have NO participation. We don't share in it nor defend it. They are about facts in public knowledge, involving news and persons that are a part of everyday reality."

Roberto Tapia on Narco Corridos
9/29/10 Los Angeles, California – The demand for narco corridos has grown tremendously in the last decade and Roberto Tapia says he is willing to sing them for whoever pays him. The singer who was born in San Diego, California and grew up in Sinaloa, Mexico defends his work arguing that he is simply recounting real-life stories and situations he has seen or been made aware of.

On the origin of his music: “ If I wanted to be a narcotrafficker then I wouldn't be here standing before you. I chose music instead,” said Roberto Tapis during an interview with recently. “I had an opportunity to sing narcocorridos about the things I saw growing up in Culiacan. I started doing this before I had any idea that narcocorridos would become a way to earn a living.” Mexican music is something that coarses through Tapia's viens. His great-grandfather and grandparents were founders of a famouse band in Sinaloa. Los Coyonquis. At age 9 he had learned to play the clarinet.

Recent music: His latest album, La Batalla (The battle) released this month includes a song of the same title about Jose luis Santiago Vasconcelos, a lawyer and public servant who went after the fincial assets of narcotraffickers. He died in a mysterious plane accident two years ago, the song suggests that the lawyer had lost his war against the narcos and paid with his life. “Yes, La Batalla is a very heavy corrido, but it is the truth and people like to hear the truth.”

His opinion: In the midst of the drug war in Mexico, the singer thinks the government should be the one to make th first move towards change. “ The government is the one who created this monster,” affirmed Tapia. “ My father worked for the government of Mexico for twenty years. Now he is retired, but he tells me things were different back then, they didn't have this type of chaos before. And why? Because back then the rules were much stricter and they were enforced. But in exchange for some gold, they let the monster grow. That is the reality, there is no other. I think the day will come that all this will end when the government wants it to,”



Source Articles:
http://latimesblogs.latimes.com/laplaza/2010/08/tijuana-tucanes-banda-narcocorridos.html
http://mx.news.yahoo.com/s/ap/100929/entretenimiento/esp_mus_roberto_tapia
It's like the Beatles being banned from returning to Liverpool, the Red Hot Chili Peppers being yanked from stages in Los Angeles, or Jay-Z's music stopped in a source of his inspiration, New York.

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21 Borderland Beat Comments:

Capo said...

que quiere decir 5.7 mi plevada?

Anonymous said...

I personally like corridos and or narcocorridos as there is a difference. But it takes a person to distinguish whats real and whats an illusion. What do I mean by that? Well some people listen to corridos and just listen to them and take it as music. Others do take these lyrics and take it to another level and take it as an adrenaline rush and they think they are living in a corrido. Corridos have always been a part of the Mexican culture but some singers do sing nothing but garbage these days and I don't consider it good music. Los Tucanes, Los Huracanes, Los Tigres those are legends in the music and their corridos are music..Some of the new artists coming out like whole Movimiento Alterado is just ridiculous, I mean the hyped up movement...Most of there songs just talk about snorting lines, chopping heads off and spending money. It's garbage and I do believe that it plays a good part in how people in Mexico especially wannabe sicarios and thugs go around Mexico committing crimes and killing folks. Corridos should have a story behind it and it's intriguing to people when true events ore people are mentioned that is all. But the music that does promote killing and how much of a bad as you are does play a role into these kids minds these days. I see it everywhere I go here in America and Mexico. Kids these days do idolize the people in corridos and they should be idolizing productive people in society.

la gringa said...

anon 8:38 i totally agree kids idolize these ppl kinda like rap music in the u.s. money hos and cars ya know...most of these kids grow up with very lil and they see what they could have by doing this and that right or wrong(that whole right and wrong thang begins in the home but thats a whole nother subject)

Anonymous said...

What a crap ass song.. Just trying to make a buck or two off some imbecile..

hasta la madre said...

Hey 7:47am, I wouldn't call Movimiento Alterado garbage, like you said, they symbolize how futile and nonsensical the current waves of violence have become. Kids as young as 12 years old committing murder and decapitating has to be expressed in a way. I agree that the newer artists like the Komander, Gerardo Ortiz and the like do not have the class of legends like Los Tigres, but they are still valuable for the reality they represent.

Really cool article Smurf, I think the approach you took to the topic was appropriate.

hasta la madre said...

Capo, me imagino que ha de significar algo como 10-23, esperar instrucciones.

Adam said...

5.7 is a Belgium made semi-automatic pistol. 5.7 is the diameter of the bullet. Light weight made of mostly polymers less the steel slide. Can hold 20 rounds. Used alot by US government.

Anonymous said...

5.7 mi plevada = $5.7 million for information leading to his capture.

Anonymous said...

This music sucks. Can't stand accordians or their high-pitched voices. And what's up with those silly costumes? Jeezus.

Smurf said...

Agreed 8:38,

Personally I like an old school band like Los Tigres, I don't want to condone the actual acts of violence that are described in some of the songs, as you say:

"Corridos should have a story behind it and it's intriguing to people when true events ore people are mentioned that is all."

Very true. I only look for new corridos when I don't know about someone by name(Metro 3 for example) but although I'm not looking for anything concrete, it is always an interesting depiction of the person or event I wish to know more about.

Anonymous said...

5-7 es una clave en Mexico within the Sinaloan Cartel. It's basically " glorified " by hit squad " Los Antrax " mentioning they are ready for combat. For example " Ay estamos al 5-7 pariente " saying I am ready for combat my brother...Not direct translation but you get the point. You hear it many corridos like el Grupo Cartel, Roberto Tapia, Larry Hernandez, El Tigrillo etc.....

Anonymous said...

Hasta la Madre...
I would call the " Movimiento Alterado " worthless corridos. I am not saying I have not ever heard their songs or they don't have good rythm but really listen to the lyrics and tell me that they just aren't glorifying the murders and somehow promoting the cartel lifestyle.They are making a dime and glorifying killing...Let's take for example the song that Los Bukanas sing... Which starts out with " Cuerno de Chivo Bazuka en la nuca bolando cabezas al que se atravesa "....I mean the song has rythm I give them that...But these guys go about acting out like wannabe dope movers, hitmen etc... I am strong believer that these songs hype up these sicarios in Mexico and it has been proven. A few months ago some sicarios shot a video that hit this blog posted a video from youtube in Chihuahua, the sicarios were hanging narco banners..Then they were running around Chihuahua with their AK's in hand intimidating people...And what were they listening to? Los Bukanas song, Con Cuerno de Chivo the whole time! While I am not saying it was all because of the corrido dedicated to sicarios. I am sure a part of it was them doing a ounce of coke the music and the gun in their hand. For the youth that lives in Mexico, for someone who doesn't have another option, well they take the dark path and most of them pay with their lives. Another song thats just garbage is the one by Los Buitres " El Coco " Starting out by saying he wakes up and does coke, miday he does coke, snorts so much coke he snorts a key in a week...Thats just garbage, I mean I have known people who were involved in that lifestyle and they would tell you that whole narco lifestyle has changed. It went from being down on the low low to be glorified and excepted...And the more bad ass you are and the more drugs you consume and money you make it's what makes you... I am not judging anyone these people do what they do but I am just calling as I see it. Being and knowing people all around here in the states and Mexico...It's a whole nother ball game and different times...My ancestors in Mexico and many others who fought and worked hard are turning in their graves in disgust to see how we as Mexicanos have turned on each other as a society....

Anonymous said...

One thing that Mario Quintero from Los Tucanes said is very true...If you don't give shout outs to the Narcos they take it personal. They take it as a blow to " their self esteem " Every Narco who gets a corridos feels like they have accomplished something. The more corridos they make about you the more your legend grows. Although corridos can be a narcos downfall as well. You are high profile and more at risk when someone makes a corridos about you, but if the goverment has already identified you and what orgianization you work for then it really doesn't matter. On another topic, some of those artists mentioned like Valentin Elizalde rumor is he was killed in Tamualipas because he was involved or trying to involve himself with a woman who had ties to Los Zetas. They warned him to stay away from the girl and rumor is he didn't so they gunned him down. He was known to be a gallo with ladies..Hence his nickname, the ladies man....And Sergio Vega well rumor is he owed money to somebody and that somebody was maybe a Narco? Who knows? Yeah some of these Artists get started by glorifying Narcos but it can be a tricky situation when singing Narco corridos because you sing the wrong thing or write the wrong lyrics..Well then it gets dicey. Narcos are known to Preapprove their corridos before they hit the airway so they kind of give the green light. If they don't approve well you don't dare put a corrido out there then. Every cartel has their own little niche artists who sing to the them. Chapo and Mayo probably have the most corridos out there right now. The lesser of the evil from what they say..The Zetas use to have corridos made for them before they turned rouge. The CDG has had many corridos sang for them including Los Tucanes who sing el corrido del Metro Tres but they sing mostly to the Arrelanos and Sinaloenses..I could go on and on but thing is...The public is intrigued by corridos and they want to hear the story behind these people. Is it bad for Mexico, well yes..When you are in a Narco war last thing you want is music glorifying the bad guys, right? Who knows.....

la gringa en Chihuas said...

Anon 2:00pm
Those aren't "costumes." They are well dressed, classy Mexican cowboy SUITS. If you don't like it that's okay, however, you don't need to be insulting.

Anonymous said...

I think that in the last ten or so years, the narcocorrido has fundamentally changed to reflect themes of violence, greed/material gain, and drug use. If you go back to a song like "Contrabando y Traicion" (Camelia la Tejana) that is not even really a song about narco-trafficking, but rather a song that reflects the sentiment, "Hell hath no fury like a woman's scorn." In the early nineties it seemed that all of the narcocorridos were about the narco and his truck, much in the same way that during the Revolution the songs were often about the revolutionary and his horse. The 90s narcocorridos were often about the trafficker overcoming poverty via the drug trade, they were about the outlaw outmaneuvering the law. I reference songs such as "El Centenario" or "Los Dos Hectareas." Now the songs glorify violence. They sing about designer clothing labels which I think is very unbecoming and even effeminate for male led groups. They glorify drug use. The corridos of the 90s still maintained a few "universals" that one could relate to (overcoming poverty, the underdog evading the law) that lent them some artistic merit. That is not so in this current wave of music. I think it's garbage, for the most part.

hasta la madre said...

5:27pm, you said it "whole narco lifestyle has changed. It went from being down on the low low to be glorified and excepted...And the more bad ass you are and the more drugs you consume and money you make it's what makes you"

That's how things work now, that's what the kids are gonna listen to, it symbolizes the way things work now: more drugs, more brutality, more gore.
Would I buy a CD or go watch any of those artists? Of course not, but they are still historically valuable.

Anonymous said...

Hello, very good comments about the bad music about the narcocorridos, i have to agree that not all corridos are bad, but for most recent artist i would'nt have to say that they sign only budshit that really have no sence, especialy for our young generation. This recent movimiento "la musica alterada" only glorifieds more and more to the cartels. I believe most artist would stop composing this kind of music, if truly the most influence of all of is the media like the "la que buena", to just to name one of them which promotes most of this new artist and the bad narcocorridos, this kind of media should stop promoting the bad influence to our younger people. if no radio or tv show would promote this kind narcocorridos, younger would'nt get influence, i strongly disagree with this moment of music as well with media..

Anonymous said...

THEY ALWYAS BE CORRIDO WHY ACT DUMM ALOT OF THIS BUL SHIT GOVERMENT GOT TO DO WITH IT BOUTH SIDE. MONEY MONEY MONEY

Anonymous said...

PLEVADA MEANS GROUP OF PEOPLE UN GRUPO DE GENTE DE AMIGOS QUE TE JUNTAS

Anonymous said...

All the singer are cool I liked. El halcon de la Sierra a lot but who ever killed this singer and chalino Sanchez are little bitches fuck all the narcos

Anonymous said...

Fuck all the narcos

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