Mexican and Chicano music

Alo To All:

I am sorry about my posting since to a certain extent is just meant to poke some fun, but at the same time to point out that Marxism or the Left in the US when dealing with Race in the U.S. has gone into depth about the state of White and Black. Yet, the "other" minorities have not received the same level of research. That's one reason I think Marxists and Chicanos, when in discourse, talk past each other. That is not to say that NO white Marxist or Marxists have studied/written/researched the Chicano community. Bert Corona, Elizabeth Martinez, etc. are good examples of Chicano Marxists that have written about the state of the Chicano community from a Marxist perspective.

As far as this group, this is probably just generational or regional since most of the talk of the Left and culture has dealt with Jazz. I am from South Texas, specifically Lower Rio Grande Valley, and Tejano and Norteño dominates in our musical taste. Also, I am not sure how many of the Tejano or Norteño artists have been involved in radical politics which I doubt if any have.

> Would the Texas Tornados be considered as playing Tejano

> music.

Yep! Though one of their singers is a C&W crooner. Also, Freddy Fender is

from our region, San Benito. Yet, I don't think any of them have been

active in communist activities. %^)

> I enjoy a lot of the Mexican and Chicano music that I've heard but I don't know enough about the different styles to be able to tell them apart.

I probably could in person, but since I am not a musician I could not be able to do it in writing. Though one major difference between Norteño and Tejano is instruments. Norteño, regional music of Northern Mexico, usually uses accordion, drums, bass, double string guitar, and, in some cases, saxophone. Tejano shares the same instruments, but also adds others such as: trumpet, keyboards, guitar, etc. Also, though Tejano is Texan Chicano music that evolved from Norteño, it has added country and blues melodies/chords. So every Tejano artists have their own style.

>What style of music would Los Tucanes De Tijuana come under?

Norteño with a lot of corridos ( a style of Norteño or rural Mexican music where the ballads describe historical occurrences).

> Any recommendations?

Mmmmm. There are no Mexican barrios in Kentucky? Usually if you can find a barrio, there is always a musical store selling to the local community or migrant community. As far as recomendations, that depends on your taste, but here are some for both Norteño and Tejano:

Ramon Ayala y Sus Bravos del Norte (the Rossetta Stone of Modern Norteño)

  • Los Tigres del Norte
  • Los Invasores de Nuevo Leon
  • Los Cadetes de Linares
  • Los Cardenales de Nuevo Leon
  • Pacon Barron y Norteños Clan
  • Jaime y Los Chamacos
  • Selena y los Dinos (yes, I know too cliche for some, but nevertheless used
  • to be a good Tejano group)
  • Eddie Gonzalez
  • Intocable
  • Los Huracanes de Nuevo Leon
  • Los Sementales de Nuevo Leon
  • The Hometown Boys
  • Carlos y Jose
  • Albert Zamora
  • Little Joe
  • La Mafia
  • Mazz
  • Lalo Mora
  • Emilio Navaira
  • Pesado
  • Miguel "Michael" Salgado
  • Salomon Robles


And the list goes on and on and on . . .and I have not yet mention other Tejano musicians. . .also haven not mentioned other styles popular in Mexico such as Banda, Vallenato, Cumbias, Rumbas, Salsa, etc. So, what does this have to do with Marxism? Hmm good question. %^) Well, I will only say that Banda, Norteño, and Tejano are very popular styles among the farmworkers and other low income Mexican workers across the U.S. This music carries a certain message and imagery particular to a certain sector of the workforce.

 I guess I have no answered the question. Oh, well . . .

¡Por El Socialismo!

Erik C. Toren

"One project I never followed through on was to purchase historical Norteno music from the 1920s and 30s, since apparently much of it celebrated the Zapata tradition."

Some of it and specifically corridos. Usually, since Norteño is from Northern Mexico with heavy roots in Chihuahua, Nuevo Leon, and Tamaulipas, most of the corridos dealt with Gen. Francisco "Pancho" Villa and his army, battles, strikes, and deaths of popular caudillos and rebels.

"I also understand that there is a new genre which combines rap and Norteno and that extols drug-lords. Since this report comes from the bourgeois media, maybe Erik could clarify."

Well, I would hardly call it rap mixed with Norteño. I think some of it passes for what Norteños think is rap and what I call techno at best. Myself being purist of course when it comes to Rap and Hip-Hop. A recent trend has been to make mixes of Norteño hits by mixing techno beat, which is quite ingenous if you can think you can mix techno with Blue Grass (as way of analogy). Yet, there is no new genre created by combining Norteño and rap, only dance mixes. For real Mexican rap check out Control Machete or Aztlan Nation or the new genre of Merengue Rap in way of Los Ilegales or Proyecto Uno.

As far as being a trend to extol drug-lords I think follows certain cultural and political-econmic trends in Mexico. First of all, corridos by their own nature are about ballads of the "underdog", the Robinhoods, or the dispossed who dare to go against the established order. Many ballads extol the bravery, the Machismo, the cunning, etc of the person who either goes against the local wealth, the police, the government, the bad father, the evil general, etc. Corridos reflect the feeling of impotence of the rural workers/farmer by extolling the virtue of revolt. So, many corridos are about revolutionary heroes, a strike leader, a famous local rebel, a community organizer, etc. Around the mid-70s a new character started to appear: the drug dealer/narco. This is not that out of synch with Norteño and corridos, since other corridos dealt with local gang bosses (sort like having a Blues song praising Al Capone). Second, the trend has picked up for two reasons: 1) Narco business has become big business and has gain greater influence in Mexico so now there is talk of Mexico becoming a Narcodemocracia starting with Salinas De Gortari & 2) the Narco image has gained popularity among the poor. So, Norteño groups following the trend have started to write more songs to meet that market. Los Tucanos de Tijuana are good example of groups that have become famous for writing corridos about Narcos. The sad thing about the trend is not only the extolling of drug dealers, but also that other "characters" in corridos have been displaced.

For those whose are interested in reading about Norteño/Tejano and its effect in Chicano culture, they should read the works of Americo Paredes. I will go back to my local library and give you comrades the name of the specific. Mr. Paredes is a good starting point.

In case any of you are interested in reading or knowing more about Tejano
music, here are some good books:

Paredes, Américo, ed. A Texas-Mexican Cancionero: Folksongs of the Lower
Border. Urbana: University of Illinois Press, 1976.

Pena, Manuel H. The Texas-Mexican Conjunto: History of a Working-class
Music. Austin: University of Texas Press, 1985.

Hope it answers some questions.

¡Por El Socialismo!

Erik Toren