First off, friends at El Proyecto Sonidero have just released a free book on Mexican ‘sonidero’ sound system culture. Go get it!
This Wednesday at 8pm on WFMU, USC professor Josh Kun will join me on Mudd Up!, to discuss the current wave of hyperviolent Mexican drug ballads (largely produced in L.A., it turns out) and to examine the question ‘why aren’t other songs being sung?’ Kun is a rare academic who manages to do inspirational work both in & out of the academy — such as TED-talking with Ozomatli, curating the Grammy Museum’s current exhibition Trouble in Paradise: Music and Los Angeles 1945-1975, and doing smart, passionate writing about Tijuana & the complex membrane that is the US-Mexico border. His knowledge of Mexican music goes deep… So tune in! Wednesday night, 8-9pm WFMU 91.1FM, streaming at wfmu.org.
If you are unfamiliar with contemporary Mexican corridos in light of the drug war, Kun’s recent essay on what he’s termed ‘necrocorridos,’ is a good place to start. As is this video from Movimiento Alterado, where catchy and lush horn production sparkles alongside bejeweled bulletproof vests as the ‘Sanguinarios del M1’ sing from the assassin’s bloody viewpoint and proudly name the narcos they work for.
And check out the first few minutes of the Kun-Ozomatli “Edge of Urban Identity” TED talk jam! Josh on the mic, talking about the new gospel of the monkey (“One of the 20 figures on the ancient ritual Mexican calendar, the monkey sported an ear-ring and wore a crew cut. He was a shapeshifter, a transformer, a changeling…”) It’s great: