UPDATE: Los Titanes’ singer has spoken about the mistaken identity:
“We wanted a character that looked like ‘El Chapo,'” Sanchez Ayon said. “We interviewed actors. But it turns out my dad is short, we put the baseball cap on and put him in the video. We didn’t mean to cause a problem.”
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A video that surfaced Thursday purportedly showing “the most wanted man in the world,” Joaquín “El Chapo” Guzmán, is actually cellphone video from the set of a music video portraying the famed Mexican drug lord.
The allegedly “leaked” video, published by El Blog Del Narco, shows a group of more than a dozen men, many heavily armed and some wearing military fatigues, at a party with a band playing music and a man performing dressage with a horse.
Dressage? A heavily armed paramilitary force?? I’m surprised nobody mistook the guy for Mitt Romney announcing his presidential bid at a border patrol rally. The Chapo likeness was good enough to fool — with reservations — one former DEA official:
“Based on several factors, there is a very strong possibility — I would say 90 to 95 percent — that it’s (El Chapo) in the video,” Vigil said in a phone interview with mySA.com on Thursday before the video’s origin was revealed. “I don’t know who else it could be.”
So apparently there are El Chapo impersonators in the world, and in the name of verisimilitude Los Titanes de Durango hired one for their “Ando Arremangado” video, and some alternative footage made its way from a phone to a narco site, and then precariously close to official investigation channels. If Los Titanes were angling for some free publicity and a good story to tell at parties, they succeeded. I wonder if the DEA has a file on them now.
It’s no secret that part of norteño music’s thrill comes from its proximity to real-life narco activity. Remember my man Juan Carlos: “Everybody thinks that they know the people [in the songs]. When we’re drunk, we sing a lot of Mexican narcocorridos… We feel good ‘cause maybe one person is from Sinaloa, so it makes you proud of those people.” Whether that proximity is real or implied varies from case to case, and most narco singers live quiet suburban lives and simply put on an act for their fans. So it’s no surprise that Los Titanes would depict themselves hanging out with El Chapo. And no matter who initiated this video leak, maybe it makes them feel more badass — they’ve faked it so real they’re beyond fake.
By the way, the song — in which the family band proclaims itself ready for action — is good. Drums and bass settle into a hard and steady rolling rhythm while the bajo sexto sticks to the offbeats. Occasionally the whole rhythm section joins forces for some syncopated fills that land like thrown punches. The accordion lays a series of nonstop ornamentation over the top, and Sergio Sánchez Ayón sings a sturdy melody. It’s that norteño sweet spot — a simple tune played with deceptive complexity, enfolded in the paratextual layers of the video. Pick to Click; just don’t imagine you’re watching a documentary.