Search

NorteñoBlog

music, charts, opinions

Tag

hyphy

¡Feliz 2017! (y ¡Lo Mejor de 2016!)

new-years-eve

Well, that was a terrible year, wasn’t it? But as disappointment turns to fear, fear into love, and love to resistance, let’s remember why you came to NorteñoBlog in the first place: accordions and tubas, cumbias and corridos, gritos and gallos, all racing around at breakneck speeds and knocking shit over.

Here are some of the most-clicked items from the blog’s most clicked year. Thanks for reading!

beto-with-fireBeto Cervantes D.E.P.
Juan Gabriel might have been the most iconic musician in Mexico, but for certain music fans — the kind who run internet searches for the details of sordid deaths — Beto Cervantes’ untimely death in September came as a shock. Or maybe not. Roughly one fifth of NorteñoBlog’s 2016 visitors came to read Manuel’s 2015 article on Beto, which covered his previous assassination attempt as well as some of his best songs.

tomen-notaEl Karma Karma Karma Comes Back to You Hard
Speaking of dead corrideros, Ariel Camacho continued to intrigue internet listeners. His own songs and those of his band, Los Plebes del Rancho, racked up enormous numbers of internet streams and had a stubborn presence on Billboard‘s Hot Latin Songs chart for most of the year. NorteñoBlog looked the Sierreño wave in the articles ¡Pisteando! (featuring Chuy Zuñiga), Wristwatch Porn and White Slavery (ft. “Tomen Nota”), and Attack of the Teen Idols. Buncha people also clicked on 2015’s Who Played It Better: Ariel Camacho or These Dudes?

los-inquietos-del-norte-requisito-americano-feat-marco-flores-y-la-numero-1-banda-jerezTrap Is Hyphy and Hyphy Is Trap
Speaking of stubborn, the twin phenomena of hyphy norteño (existence iffy) and the Hyphy record label (going strong!) continued to fascinate. NorteñoBlog covered both in the 2015 article Pronounced “Jai-Fi”: The Rise and Fall of Hyphy Norteño, and happily learned about Martín Patrón‘s hardcore “trap corridos” in the above linked Trap Is Hyphy and Hyphy Is Trap. We also heard from a band of hyphy-not-hyphy progenitors in Marco Flores y Los Inquietos Saluden a Su Madre.

el-americanoTop 5 W.T.F. Corrido Moments!
Speaking of corridos, Omar Ruiz‘s song “El Americano,” re-recorded with the kickass band Fuerza de Tijuana, became an unexpected U.S. radio hit and sent people to Manuel’s above-linked 2015 article, where you can see Ruiz singing the song to its subject, Boston narco George Jung. And, perhaps feeling guilty about all these corrido articles but nonetheless digging the new Tucanes tune, Josh wondered How Do We Hear Violent Corridos?

100 Regional Mexican Compilations Released in 2015
But it wasn’t all corridos! The article above looked at the curious prevalence of Regional Mexican compilation albums, even though such albums seem to be dying in the rest of the music industry. We also looked at the histories of the Mexican radio market in Houston and, in a still-popular 2015 article, Chicago. And if you ever wondered what’s behind the Houston Rodeo’s “Go Tejano Day” — well, here you go.

sergio-floresAlso — and be sure to pour one out for the late George Michael, who inspired the name of this feature — Yo. Quiero. Tu. Saxo.

Julio Tiene Calor

Pg13-Mens-soccer-celebration

Thanks to you, a loyal coalition of corrido heads and puro sax devotees, NorteñoBlog enjoyed its most-clicked month yet in julio. Here are the posts that got the most attention, both current articles and old ones:

Current Posts:
1. Trap is Hyphy and Hyphy is Trap (¡Nuevo!)
Hyphy Music Inc. is still going strong; Martin Patrón’s Trap Corridos is rad.

2. NorteñoBlog’s Top Singles of 2016: Abril – Junio
12 tunes worth hearing; NorteñoBlog will totally update the YouTube playlist sometime in the next decade.

3. Yo Quiero Tu Saxo (julio 2016)
Sax riffs and terrible puns comin’ at ya!

4. Desfile de Éxitos 7/9/16
Intocable sets a chart record; the blog continues to marvel at how much the kids love Los Plebes del Rancho.

5. Who’s On the Mexican Radio? 7/8/16
Songwriter’s Showcase underrates the new Recodo single.

Old Posts:
1. Explosion Norteña: Beto’s Revenge
Manuel celebrates the inimitable flow of Beto Cervantes, lead MC of Explosion Norteña.

2. Top 5 W.T.F. Corrido Moments!
More intersections of rap and corridos: Manuel counts ’em down.

3. Who’s On the Mexican Radio? 6/23/16
La Iniciativa and Banda Los Recoditos team up for a tongue-twisting tune about wingmen and the women they share at the club.

4. 100 Regional Mexican Compilations Released in 2015
Seriously, who buys these things?

5. Pronounced “Jai-Fi”: The Rise and Fall of Hyphy Norteño
Almost a decade ago, Los Amos and friends went hyphy; WHAT DOES IT ALL MEAN?

¡Gracias por leer!

Trap is Hyphy and Hyphy is Trap (¡Nuevo!)

martin patron

It’s been a few months since NorteñoBlog checked in with Hyphy Music Inc., the Fresno, California-based indie label devoted to (mostly narco-)corridos. Despite the label’s bud-bating logo “Kush Style,” adopted by owner Jose Martinez to distinguish his label as a mellow alternative to the gory Movimiento Alterado, I’ve previously chided the label on its lack of a distinct brand identity. (Seems like a weird thing to care about, I know.)

Recently, though, Martinez seems to have settled into a niche: His acts are all about HUSTLE. They play fast and work hard, and they sing about playing fast and working hard. Just like in rap, where the nonstop grind of the gangster becomes a metaphor for cranking out endless musical versions of that selfsame metaphor (a meta-metaphor?), Hyphy’s bands embody the gritty work ethic of the narcos they chronicle. That they sometimes sing about other subjects is the exception proving the rule. This extreme focus can lead to repetitive music, sure; but at their best, Hyphy acts create exciting micro-variations driven by morally fraught jitters. They know that, if their energy flags, a rival will quickly step in to fill the void. It’s music as an energizing and sometimes exhausting fight for life.

trap corridosUn ejemplo: the accordion-slinging corridero Martin Patrón (aka Martin Lopez “El Patrón”) has just released his debut album Trap Corridos, hustling another term of art from U.S. rap. It comes only a decade and change after T.I.’s Trap Muzik, but whatever; the word “trap” still has currency in this year of “Panda.” Also like “Panda,” my transcriptions of Sr. Patrón’s songs remain sketchy-to-nonexistent, but a round of Hasty Cartel Googling reveals “M100” is probably about a Sinaloa Cartel honcho, and “Hijo de Joaquín” is probably about El Chapo’s kid. (St. Louis pride being what it is, arguments for the late Joaquín Andújar, himself no stranger to hustle, will be entertained.)

So don’t invite Patrón to play Career Day at your local high school. But the music’s the important thing: an irresistible blend of spiky tuba/drum/sexto counterpoint, topped by Sr. Patrón’s accordion, alternately spitting out impressive flourishes and chromatic Jackson Pollock splatters. He’s a fine singer, too, with a rich and resonant voice. A couple Facebook comments suggest he sounds like the late Tito Torbellino. Check out the Pick to Click single “El de la Rueda” (not a Torbellino cover) and see if you agree:

¡VALE LA PENA! Continue reading “Trap is Hyphy and Hyphy is Trap (¡Nuevo!)”

How Do We Hear Violent Corridos? (Desfile de Éxitos 3/12/16)

los tucanes

Thanks to Los Tucanes de Tijana, NorteñoBlog has been forced into another installment of our occasional feature HASTY CARTEL GOOGLING. This long-running quintet of corrideros is nothing if not consistent, and they’re back at #20 on the Regional Mexican airplay chart with “Panchito El F1,” a pro forma cartel ballad ripped from the headlines by their prolific songwriter Mario Quintero. The story concerns a real life honcho of the Gulf Cartel in Zacatecas. Until recently he operated under the nombres de cartel “Panchito” and “F1,” but was captured along with coworkers in May. The federales also confiscated some of the cartel’s heavy weaponry, including four grenade launchers and four AK47s. (No andan cazando venados con esa mierda, amirite?) The song is Panchito’s origin story: when ordered to kill someone else’s family, he refuses. As a penalty, his own family is kidnapped and tortured, but he gets them back. (I think; standard gabacho translation caveats apply.) The corrido also mentions a different Gulf Cartel honcho named Comandante Hamburguesa. Since this Hamburgler appears to be still at large, NorteñoBlog will leave his Hasty Cartel Googling up to you!

Does current Mexican law permit narcocorridos on the radio? This recent article suggests “Panchito El F1” is probably banned from Mexico’s airwaves because it “publicly supports criminal actions.” (I’m sure the Gulf Cartel is wondering why membership is down.) As we saw in our last round of Hasty Cartel Googling, this ban is not absolute: La Séptima Banda recently charted with the wafer-thin character study “El Hijo del Ingeniero,” based on the party habits of a real life cartel scion. But that’s a party song. “F1” has violence and weaponry and is not the sort of thing the Mexican government wants impressionable muchachos to hear. You know, all those muchachos who listen to the radio but don’t know how to work Youtube.

NorteñoBlog does not support banning violent corridos from the radio, because banning violent corridos from the radio is silly. Corrido bans are the ineffective smokescreens of an utterly failed war on drugs. Better to focus on the corruption that prevents Mexico from thoroughly prosecuting its criminals. Better to alleviate Mexico’s poverty, or to deal with drug-addicted El Norte; these are the blights that have driven Mexican people to the cartels. (A possibly optimistic statistic: “A 2012 study by the Mexcian Institute of Competitiveness (IMCO) figured if the U.S. legalized marijuana, Mexican drug cartels would lose 30 percent of their revenue.”) There are no simple solutions; but whatever the solutions might be, neoliberal outrage over suppressing free speech is a secondary issue.

So here’s the real question when it comes to songs like “F1”: What do people hear in violent corridos, and why? Continue reading “How Do We Hear Violent Corridos? (Desfile de Éxitos 3/12/16)”

Pronounced “Jai-Fi”: The Rise and Fall of Hyphy Norteño

amos 2008

After first appearing at the 2014 EMP Pop Conference in Seattle, this article ran last spring at Maura Magazine; I reprint it here with their kind permission.

————————————–
amos 1996Here’s the story of a band from Modesto,
A small city east of San Francisco.
Led by the brothers Guajardo,
They’re known to the world as Los Amos.

amos 2001They got started back in the mid-’90s
Playing los narcocorridos,
And over the course of a decade,
Los Amos altered their appearance

amos 2006From flashy-shirted, big-hatted cowboys
To black-suited, no-hatted tough guys,
Los Amos’ transformation was dramatic,
And their music changed right along with them.

This transition was shaped by two forces:
The demands of their well-structured business,
But also their repeated incantations
Of one magic word from the Bay…

HYPHY HYPHY HYPHY HYPHY HYPHY HYPHY HYPHY HYPHY HYPHY HYPHY HYPHY

But before we get hyphy, we need to answer this question: Why were some guys in Modesto, California, playing corridos—Mexican story songs about the drug trade—for a living in the first place? The answer lies with two names, corridistas you’ve probably heard of, immigrants to los Estados Unidos, legends in their field.
Continue reading “Pronounced “Jai-Fi”: The Rise and Fall of Hyphy Norteño”

Indie Animales (starring Los Inquietos, El Chapo de Sinaloa, y más)

peyoyo

We all know insufferable (and occasionally kickin’) Brooklyn indie bands love naming themselves after animals. But did you know that kickin’ (and occasionally insufferable) indie norteño bands also dig animal metaphors? And were you aware that writing intros is not NorteñoBlog’s strong suit? Read on!

los inquietosLos Inquietos del Norte started one of norteño’s most successful artist-directed indie labels, Eagle Music, in 2002. Along with their fellow Bay-area natives Los Amos de Nuevo Leon, Los Inquietos helped create the sound of hyphy norteño, the party punk version of bro-norteño, all lickety split tempos, simple accordion slashes, and lyrics about wild debauchery. Inquietos quickly went their own way: though their songs still sounded hyphy, they dropped the hyphy name and started adding wobbly violin-based ballads to their repertoire. They also grew their record label. Along the way they’ve cut distribution deals with mom-and-pops and majors. I’m not sure how their new album De Noche Enfiestado is being promoted, but I did hear its wobbly violin-based lead single “No Dudes De Mi” on midwestern corporate radio the other day, so somebody’s pushing it.

In addition to their Eagle mascot, Inquietos are into perro y gallo metaphors. NorteñoBlog has discussed their wobbly, weirdly operatic single “Como Perro Amarrado,” which is sort of like Jamey Johnson’s “Dog In the Yard” without the rue. Like, serious lack of rue. The Meza brothers’ vibrato is where rue goes to die. Their profane and violent “La Cerre el Hozico al Perro” has more energy, and I’m partial to “Los Tres Gallasos,” if only for the accordion. Rosalio Meza has some fast licks at his disposal, but he’s not afraid to simply hang out on one repeated note, frowning his instrument’s approval at the lyrics. There’s a cultivated carelessness in this bunch.

Continue reading “Indie Animales (starring Los Inquietos, El Chapo de Sinaloa, y más)”

El Hyphy (aka The Rise and Fall of Hyphy Norteño) in Maura Magazine

narquillos cover

My hyphy thinkpiece has arrived! It’s all about California’s unique genre of corrido music known as “hyphy” — yes, named after the rap style — which flourished briefly last decade. The article excerpts two new interviews, one with Hyphy label owner Jose Martinez and one with producer and engineer Juan Ramirez. If I may say so myself, it’s a fun read.

You can read it in Maura magazine, either by subscribing or paying some nominal dinero for the single issue. Out of respect for the magazine and its paywall I won’t reprint anything here, but I don’t think they’d mind if I reprint my abstract for the conference where this article originated:

Pronounced “Jai-Fi”: California Norteño, the Word “Hyphy,” and the Story of a Movement

Recount the fall of 2008, when everyone in the club was getting hyphy — everyone in California’s norteño scene, at least. A year after the watershed rap compilation Hyphy Hitz, the Modesto band Los Amos de Nuevo León scored a minor radio hit with “El Hyphy,” a galloping two-minute accordion orgy of “locos brincando.” A movement was born, sort of. Los Amos’ producer Juan Ramirez corralled like-minded bands into El Movimiento Hyphy; CDs and videos rushed to market. As hyphy rap faded from the nation’s radar, these norteño bands claimed the word as their own, suggesting fast tempos, California pride, subterranean video budgets, and various decadent and/or inexplicable behaviors. The cover of Narquillos del Hyphy’s album El Burro Hyphy depicts the movement in all its glory: six men in matching black and white outfits stand with a gleaming motorcycle, scowling at the severed head of a donkey wearing a diamond studded grill.

Hyphy Movimiento burned out quickly, but the word “hyphy” lives on. Los Amos’ current label is Hyphy Music Inc., which “has nothing to do with Hyphy Movimiento,” label founder and namer Jose Martinez told me — “‘Hyphy’ to me means absolutely nothing.” But it still connotes plenty: California, kush, and, in Martinez’s view, a mellower strain of narcocorrido. Unlike bands in the more popular Movimiento Alterado, Hyphy’s bands don’t sing the gory details of cartel massacres, except when they do. Through interviews and music I’ll explore the shifting story of the word “hyphy” in U.S. norteño music, and through that story some larger issues of branding, cultural appropriation, and the new wave of corrido fans. (Hyphy sells 90% of its music within the U.S.) I won’t dwell too much on cartel violence, promise — but Martinez, a conscientious former youth counselor, did bring it up.

¡Nuevo! (or, Is “El Karma” the new “Louie Louie”?)

cohuich bus

For corrido bands, “El Karma” is quickly becoming what “Louie Louie” was to ’60s garage rockers or “I’m Not Your Stepping Stone” was to D.C. hardcore bands: the song you play to prove your mettle and/or prove you’re metal. This was true even before Ariel Camacho’s death propelled the song to mythic status and #1 on the Hot Latin chart earlier this year. Last year Camacho, Noel Torres ft. Voz De Mando, Revolver Cannabis, and two of this week’s bands all recorded versions of the song, and last week the Ivan Archivaldo impersonators in Grupo Maximo Grado released their own take. “El Karma” has several things to recommend it to aspiring nihilists. Its story and takeaway lesson are badass; its minor-key B section sets it apart from the corrido pack; and it works as well with rowdy bandas as it does with unsmiling small ensembles. Nadie de la parca se puede escapar — so we might as well dance, right?

banda culiacancitoThe 17 or so members of Banda Culiacancito were last seen cutting a live album of duets with the norteño band Revolver Cannabis and the late corridista Ariel Camacho, and their version of “El Karma” is a muy borracho thing, far removed from Camacho’s stolid solo rendition. Their new album Termina de Aceptario (DEL/Sony) returns to just Culiacancito and their horns, with a rollicking single called “Lastima de Tu Cuerpo.”

septima bandaLast year La Séptima Banda cut their own version of “El Karma,” a cover of competing borrachera and verve. They titled their whole album after the song, in fact — El Karma: Puros Corridos (Hyphy). Their major label debut Segurito Segurito (Fonovisa) is out this week, and it’s already yielded one minor radio hit with the big, bouncy “Bonito y Bello.” “B’y’B” is NOT puro corrido; its swanky melody reminds me Adriel Favela’s “Cómo Olvidarla,” which in turn reminded me of Tower of Power or something, but maybe you should check for yourself.

panchito arredondoPanchito Arredondo does not, to my knowledge, have a cover of “El Karma” floating around, but I’ll tell you what is floating around: the guy’s sense of pitch. His second album Mayor de la Vagancia (Hyphy) should be required listening for aspiring TV singing contestants; in places it’s as painful as Madonna’s high notes in “Into the Groove.” But like Madonna, Panchito’s saved by energy and sympathetic backing musicians who generally succeed in hustling him away from the long notes. On the song “El Polacas,” those musicians include the young band Grupo H100, who are also on Hyphy but who are not themselves hyphy. (Thinkpiece forthcoming.)

maria belemMaría Belem should not be confused with the telenovela María Belén aka María Belém. (I was briefly confused.) Her low budget videos “¿Te Acuerdas?” and “Yo Te Decido” came out last year and have been largely ignored, a shame for songs with such robust energy. Now comes her debut album Orgullo de Tierra Caliente (Prodisc), as cheerful an album as I’ve heard this year, even when Belem is lamenting “Que Triste Navidad.”

banda cohuich“Yo Te Decido” would be this week’s Pick to Click if I hadn’t come across this cumbia album that may or may not be a compilation, Banda Cohuich‘s No Te Equivoques (Pegasus). The cover advertises the exito “Son Kora Kau Te Te Kai Nie Ni (Dialecto Huichol),” Huichol being an indigenous Mexican language, “Son Kora” being a relentless jerking propulsion machine with brass, gang vocals, and a slippery synth line (I think). Quickie Youtube research reveals that several of these songs existed several years ago, but also that Banda Cohuich consistently rocks, especially on the speedy mucho-syllabic electrocumbia “Chicos iLu.”

OTHER SEEMINGLY NEW ALBUMS OR REISSUES:

El Rey Pelusa – Irresistible
La Fe Norteña de Toño Aranda – Entre la Espada y la Pared (Goma)
Los Junior’s Klan – Contragolpe (RCA)
Grandes Exitos de Los Terrícolas (NVO)
Rossy War y Su Banda Kaliente – Soy Diferente (INDEPENDIENTE)

Create a free website or blog at WordPress.com.

Up ↑