Yes, America: Mexican Music is Violent. Get Over It.

Categories: Español Music

buknas_de_tijuana.png
From Movimiento Alterado's "Sanguinarios del M1"
BuKnas de Culiacán singer doing what he does best--vamping!
America's liberal class and MSMers are abuzz right now over Narco Cultura, a documentary about Mexico's horrific drug war and the musical movement that has risen around it. These libs (and more than a few conservatives) are telling each other and the two Mexicans they know about how Mexican music nowadays glorifies the drug trade, how artists will write songs for narcos on commission, how musicians go on stage with AK-47s, bulletproof vests, and bazookas, how those songs revel in being as gory as possible--and how terrible all of this is.

Never mind that the music groups highlighted really hit their height in Mexican culture in 2010. Never mind that almost no media outlet had reported on this new wave of narcocorridos--alternately called el movimento alterado ("the altered movement"--"altered" as in "high as shit") or corridos enfermos ("sick corridos") until now, and now everyone is tripping on themselves to report this "new" news. NPR and the New York Times did stories on Narco Cultura recently, so it's now news! And you know something is the liberal flavor of the month when they're going to Ry Cooder--the only person progressive gabachos trust for their ethnic music--so he can cluck about the sadness of it all.

SNORE. Yes, America: Mexican music is violent. Get over it.

The buzz over Narco Cultura is causing audiences to sigh again about poor Mexico--so far from God, so close to the United States blah blah blah. About the country's failed status. About the continued degradation of cultura. A Two Minutes Hate for our neighbors south of the border. But this attention proves again two realities that Mexicans know: Americans will believe anything about Mexico a white "authority" tells them, and only then. And the lamestream media is as lazy as ever.

First off, a primer about the specific movement at the center of Narco Cultura. The main group highlighted, an LA-based outfit called BuKnas de Culiacán (each part a signifier in narco cultura: BuKnas being a shoutout to Buchanan's the Cristal of narcocorridos, and Culiacán being the center of Narcolandia), is featured in this video produced by Twiins Enterprise, the Brill Building of movimiento alterado music. It's called "Sanguinarios de M1" (The Bloodthirsty Ones from M1), highlights all the groups in the Twiins' roster at the time, and is as jaunty as it is disturbing. Enjoy!

If our newfound experts on Mexican music would've remembered their Grey Lady, they would've recalled a 2006 profile by my pal Josh Kun highlighting Los Twiins. Back then, they were promoting a single that would call for amnesty for undocumented folks. Back then, other groups were dominating the narcocorrido racket--except they were known as corridos pesados. And that movement itself was just an evolution from the narcocorridos pioneered by groups such as Los Tucanes de Tijuana during the 1990s. And they were, in turn, influenced by norteño icons Los Tigres del Norte, Los Cadetes de Linares, and Los Alegres de Terán, groups that first made their bones praising drug lords and violence during the 1970s and 1980s. And that era saw the rise of the narcopelícula ("narco film") genre, wildly popular bloodthirsty affairs usually starting the brothers Almada, Mario and Fernando. And those two genres built on drug songs ranging from "El Contrabando del Paso" to even "La Cucaracha."

In other words, there's nothing new whatsoever about BuKnas and their contemporaries.

mario_almada.jpg
Mario Almada: The Charles Bronson of Mexico

Songs glorifying the drug trade and violence is a part of Mexican music, just like it is in American music. And if it seems amplified in Mexican culture, that's because it is: folk music will always serve as a newspaper of el pueblo as opposed to pop music, and violence has been part of Mexican society in one way or another since the Mexican Revolution. And the working classes will always glorify the badasses of the era--the more criminal, the better (see: Stagger Lee). Simple sociology, you know?

Critics might argue that the new songs are more explicit in their descriptions of violence--but the same is true of culture worldwide, and such ahistorical whining is nothing new: the Los Angeles Times, in one of the first MSM articles on narcocultura back in the 1990s (in an article I currently can't find because my pinche Lexis Nexis is down) found a Socrates-era quote bemoaning how youth even then were coarsening culture. Even then.

The movimento alterado has been especially huge in Southern California, and has been the topic of much soul-searching in Mexican and Mexican-American circles--yet it has received no attention until now. And why now? Because a gabacho did a documentary about it. And, of course, once a gabacho does something, it becomes news for other gabachos.

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135 comments
kikojonesusa
kikojonesusa

Could you be any more glib? So, your point is the MSM and--by extension--white people are clueless to what occurs outside their immediate realm. And why it's bogus for anyone to make a fuss over narcocorridos. Is that it? Is that all you've got?

The backdrop for the gangsta lifestyle surrounding the murder of Biggie and Tupac is a Beverly Hills clambake compared to what's going in northern Mexico. Entire bands popping up in mass graves. Jenny Rivera. Not to mention the regular citizens murdered and tortured every single day while an insanely high percentage of them go uninvestigated. 

The soundtrack to this carnage are narcocorridos, which you simply boil down to a fad. Then you proceed to characterize American interest in the ghastly phenomenon that grips northern Mexico as not one of compassion and/or general concern--after all, people are being murdered by he truckload--but as nothing more than a desire to see "Mexican society as fundamentally depraved."

Incredible.

Lamano Conpelos
Lamano Conpelos

There is no good or bad people, it's the enviroment they are raised in. If you go to Morocco,you'll see that nobody eats cow, and that does not make you bad or anything, it's values that were put on you as a baby....If you go to Korea, people eats dogs, and that's not make them bad...it's the enviroment what shapes human behavior. To learn more about viable solutions, please visit www.thevenusproject.com (and I am Mexican born and raised)

nebeltex
nebeltex

How about writing something original instead of "re-hashing" an article you wrote in June '07?

P Verdin Jimenez
P Verdin Jimenez

FILTHY TRASH ..ignorant, despicable and stupid ..this so called "music" is..Mexicans killing Mexicans is what THEY want...WAKE UP my gente !!!..peace :)

luisfelipe2000
luisfelipe2000

Why get over it? Im mexican and I hate that kind of music. Thanks to this kind of music millions of young kids in Mexico want to become drug dealers instead of wanting to become doctors, engineers or scientists. Please dont give me that bs that drugs only kill gabachos

Alfredo Cuevas
Alfredo Cuevas

Narco corridos for ps4 games that display us guns= match made in heaven

Jeff O'Brien
Jeff O'Brien

No rap singer ever talked about slapping a ho around. Ever.

Jim McFadden
Jim McFadden

Good point, even better point from guy above re: Stagolee, for the truth is, I love both songs, as well as the old time Appalachian murder ballads. I still think Narco corridos suck, though.

Jon Lundin
Jon Lundin

Gustavo is a racist and needs to be deported.

Oscar Hernandez
Oscar Hernandez

It's all the same thing Americans also write about drugs so it's all good.

Dio Colindres
Dio Colindres

Narcocorridos are a shame for a country like Mexico, where thousands of people had been kill because of the criminal activities, this bands try to show a "cool" side of this horrible situation, side that doesn't exist, because many of those dead people were innocent. This isn't culture, this is the opposite, the decadence of a country where people don't read anymore, the music is very poor. In a country with such of musical legacy, is shame this is what mis paisanos like. I really don't relate to this at all.

Jesse Orozco
Jesse Orozco

Narco corridos exist because of Americas addiction. Yeah I said it.

Chuy Galvan
Chuy Galvan

Mexican gangsta rap. And just like the NWA's of the world finally faded, so shall this noise pollution...

Joe Smith
Joe Smith

It's hard to be intimidated by tubas & accordions. Nothing but punks. I love how they also revel in their "Catholicism" with gold crosses and violent ways. Jesus would spit on them. That's what makes me laugh the hardest. These punks claim to be religious, but they break every rule their religion espouses. This is just as bad as "gangsta rap". Why glorify this disturbing societal ill? There is nothing to be proud of by acting similar to muslim terrorists. That's all these punks are, terrorists, terrorizing a nice place and society.

Patrick Goldberg
Patrick Goldberg

Am I the only Whiteboy who knows who Chalino Sanchez is?

Jose Moreno
Jose Moreno

Johnny Cash sang about doing coke & shooting down his wife -- where's the moral gauge on that?

Andrew Nava
Andrew Nava

narco burritos....my new Mexican restaurant.....lol

Scott Overpeck
Scott Overpeck

Art is a reflection of culture. Musicians often act as reporters. Rap in the 90's told the story of life in the inner city. You can say it glorified it, but really it told it like it was from one perspective. Don't hate on musicians for creating art. Hate on the policies that create the conditions they speak of. Hate on politicians who enact such policies. hate on law enforcement who implement said policies and continually escalate the violence.

Joe Aguilar
Joe Aguilar

I find Rande's incredible level of ignorance and stupidity quite amusing, to be honest.. Lol

David Carbajal
David Carbajal

I don't think people understood the message of the article. I don't think Gustavo was really trying to justify anything at all. I think it was more of an educational article written to prove to most Anglos that "narco cultura" has been around for a very long time far longer than most people think. Whether or not it's something to be proud of- it's part of our culture. It's Mexican music just like Juan Gabriel. Kind of like Taco Bell is considered Mexican food; it's not great Mexican food, but it's Mexican food. Great job, Mr. Arellano!

Jim McFadden
Jim McFadden

Nice try, Gustavo, but no. celebrating the misadventures of Narco's is despicable, a complete moral failure. Almost as lame as your column about how great the doyers are compared to the Angels. Love your writing about food, though.

Veronica Alvarez
Veronica Alvarez

Rande Linville, is calling me a name also included in your American values? I was born and educated here sir. I'm in no way excusing this (murder) behavior. One simply has to read the news to learn of murders, torturing and the like that occur at the hands of Americans.

Don Mexico
Don Mexico

true. part of me thinks he's also just trolling. he can't be that stupid but then again, i wouldn't be surprised.

Greg Chavez
Greg Chavez

Don't bother Don... You're obviously arguing with a person who's not too bright.

Don Mexico
Don Mexico

how do you teach a rock to jump?

Veronica Alvarez
Veronica Alvarez

Rande Linville, murder in any form is horrific, you seem to be under the impression that beheading is beneath you and is a "third-world" form of murder, it is not. Sadly, horrific murders in all forms happen here and abroad.

Rande Linville
Rande Linville

I get what you are saying, but gangster rap does not promote the third world mentality that you are talking about. Your statement was wrong & I'm sticking to it.

Don Mexico
Don Mexico

Jesus H. Christ, you're about as intelligent as a bag of wet hair. #smfh

Rande Linville
Rande Linville

Killing & beheading are not the same. Now continue to show that third world mentality you have!! Now admit it & move on.

Don Mexico
Don Mexico

murder is murder, you fuckin' moron. for the love of baby jesus, please stop. you're making yourself look really stupid.

nebeltex
nebeltex

No.... I think your post may be a "typo"..... Narcos are herpes, now and forever. :)

El_Rapido
El_Rapido

Actually, many of them praise an alternative religion that closely mirrors Catholicism.  For example, a lot of them praise "Jesus Malverde" a so-called saint for narcos and the Santa Muerte.  Both ARE NOT recognized by the Catholic church and the Catholic Church does not associate with them in any way.   

tom.pryor
tom.pryor

Nope. Lots of folks read Elijah's Wald's 2002 book, too...  ;)

tom.pryor
tom.pryor

The only narco burritos I've ever had were the ones you get at Taco Bell after a night of ill-considered narcotics... because college.

tom.pryor
tom.pryor

So, was Johnny Cash a "complete moral failure" for all his "outlaw" songs? Because it's hard to think of a more upstanding figure in music.

tom.pryor
tom.pryor

I think you're confused, Rande. Beheading is indeed killing (unless done posthumously). Generally one is considered a subset of the other: not a killings are beheadings, but the vast majority of beheadings are killings. See how that works?  

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