Los Tigres del Norte are perhaps the most accomplished Mexican group today. Their musical career expands over three decades. They sing songs of love and heartbreak. But they also sing songs that have a social message to them. They sing very poignantly about Mexican migrants in the US.
Even more, in 2000 they founded a non-profit to preserve Mexican and Mexican American music. UCLA was the recipient of a grant from their foundation and they have used it to digitize one of the largest collections of Mexican music from the early 20th century.
But what identifies Los Tigres del Norte the most is that they are the most succesful NarcoCorridos interpreters both in Mexico and abroad.
NarcoCorridos are a genre of muisc that stems from the Corridos. Corridos are a genre of norteño music, a grandchild of the polkas, and their distinctive feature is that they tell a story. Corridos became popular during the Mexican Revolution. They communicated news to a largely illiterate population.
NarcoCorridos also tell stories, but they tell stories about narcos and drug trafficking. They first became popular in 1973 when Los Tigres del Norte recorded “Contrabando y Tracion” Drug Smuggle and Treason also known as Camelia the Texan.
Los Tigres newest NarcoCorrido is called “La Granja”, The Farm, and it makes allusion to George Orwell’s Animal Farm.
But this song and all other NarcoCorridos have been banned from the airwaves in Mexico by president Felipe Calderon. His argument being that NarcoCorridos celebrate drug traffickers and violence and are therefore to blame for the current violence and drug war in Mexico.
Granted, there are some NarcoCorridos that do celebrate violence but I consider banning them scapegoating at its worst. Not only that, it is a spit in the face to Mexican’s liberty of expression. NarcoCorridos are not responsible for the drug war. They are a critique and reflection of it.
The real reasons behind the drug war are:
1) Government corruption at all levels.
2) The insatiable demand for drugs from US consumers.
3) The ease with which weapons, most of them legally bought in the US, are re-sold and bought in the black market.
I’m surprised there haven’t been more protests against the prohibition. Imagine the uproar if Gangster Rap was banned in the US. But then again just because something is banned doesn’t mean people don’t listen to it. I mean, drugs are banned…
Los Tucanes de Tijuana are another group that stands out when it comes to NarcoCorridos. Their lead singer and guitarist Mario Quintero writes all their songs. He has very witty lyrics.
In his song My Three Animals he uses the slang words perico, chivo y gallo (parrot, goat, rooster) to talk about cocaine, heroine and marijuana.
And similarly in his song my 3 women he sings of a white woman, a woman with green eyes and a black woman to talk of those drugs again.
Besides trafficking marijuana from Mexico and cocaine and heroin from abroad, Mexican Narcos have recently become a large producers of methamphetamines too. What animal or type of woman would best suit to describe this drug? A crazy macaw, perhaps?
I’d love to collaborate with Los Tigres or Los Tucanes and do a CD cover for them. Hence the square format of my illustrations. And I plan on doing more illustrations of Mexican music genres and prominent Mexican musicians. Suggestions are welcome.
I also recently found out that narco videohomes, a B-movie industry about narcos is thriving. Check out this article on Vice. They are kind of like the Ghanean movies that you find in black hair saloons and that are loved by the African Diaspora worldwide. But they are with Mexican people and about drug smugglers.
I’d love to do some dvd covers for them too.