1) Castillian word for parrot.
2) A motor-mouthed chickenhead.
3) Dominican slang for game, rap, the things one says to seduce.
see also labia or en ingles runnin’ gums
Sigue El Mambo
This posting is in large part a response to Wayne&Wax‘s post on smut/slackness in dancehall music. Beat-junkie that I am, I have a far better memory for artist, title, label, BPM than lyrics. Still, I make it a priority to assess my selections and make sure that the music I play reflects my ideology. If I am to have the luxury of playing for rooms full of people I choose to at least attempt to balance fun and reason. If I really don’t agree with the content of a tune, it’s not getting air on my shift. I make it a point not to dance when I hear ‘Boom Bye Bye’ out. My own silent protests. You might remember me as the kid in class that opted not to pledge the flag but this isn’t me on soapbox-pulpit. I’m sure some of things I play and approve aren’t in someone else’s bag for various reasons. There’s plenty of fun bad-man, gun, and audio-porn dance tunes that the powers-that-be will stamp an advisory warning on and DJs will bang out this year.
But if we are to have real discourse on raw international music that promotes sexuality or violence and whether or not cautions should be taken toward audience, I think the following is a great tune to dissect.
A while back DJ/Rupture threw up a tune from Omega on the Mudd Up and mentioned this Mambo Violento movement out of the Dominican Republic. Although Omega’s band goes by the same name, Mambo Violento as a genre, is street-merengue defined mostly by hyper-rhythms, braggadocio and sexual innuendo. My first exposure to the sound was sitting in the backseat of a Dominican gypsy cab speeding home from a gig. Beyond the 200+ gabber-like BPMs what caught my ear about the compilation the driver was playing was the flagrant raunchiness of the lyrics.
Perreo is one thing but this was a whole new level of slackness in latin music. Here’s a really minimal sounding tune called ‘La Menor’ (The Minor) by El Sujeto that reminds me more of Detroit Grand Pubahs than any merengue derivative. In the tune, you’ll hear El Sujeto hitting on an underage girl, whose refrain “Es que soy menor, Es que yo no doy” translates into I’m a minor, I don’t put out. He spends the rest of the tune dando le cotorra and letting her know that her age won’t be a problem. My inner-feminist and pedophile radar blipped. Its now flagged as a don’t-play tune worth keeping in the collection for the when they book me to play at Playboy Mansion someday-
At first listen, I really liked the minimal aspect of the tune as it was recorded. It sounds like it was made low-budget shitty and smells of dirty minimal electro ala Peaches, with a side of mangu. The strange keys at the intro and the guido-like hi-hat that comes in, all so left-field from their origin yet the roots still visible at surface level. Lyrically, my concern was that the chorus was talking about having sex with a minor which falls outside my personal comfort zone. Until you find yourself in a room sitting and conversing with a questionable couple and are forced to clarify where you draw that line for yourself, I think one could easily live without processing the gravity of this. The tune isn’t insanely offensive and talks mostly about the same old: Watch the bling, I’ve got an SUV, I’m not taking any back-chat so go tell your parents I’m gonna take you back to the cabin and beat the punnany.
Take a second and picture that in the context of an adult saying it to a fourteen or fifteen year old.
In a live performance of the same tune below El Sujeto and the band bring it back to the realm of merengue, but the first thing that I notice is the LACK of back-up dancers in micro-skirts that is common in a lot of videos for the genre. The girl’s chorus from the original is also being carried by a trio of three male back up singers. All male back up singers is normal but scantily-clad women are usually in the budget for these types of performances. I could be wrong here but my intuition tells me that though there’s a chance this was filmed on a morning show with some level of humility what’s likely is the artist knows this tune is on the wire and he balanced his stage act to compensate. If thats the case, respek mi doopz, balance is good.
Behind the stage persona, I bet this guy too loves and respects his momma.
The cultural age of sexual consent varies greatly from city to town to pueblo. Your position on this is as irrelevant as my position on this tune. Thats your opinion bruv, next caller….. It makes no difference if you think its right or not, we’re two thousand plus miles and several income brackets away from that truth.
Tell a single mother in the Dominican Republic that letting her 15 year old find a husband is a bad idea when she has 4 other kids to take care of and a 24oz can of powdered milk costs 240 pesos ($1 = 33 pesos). No mother wants their daughter to marry a skeevy guy but in villages where a college education and opportunity are hurdled by real-world hunger, the decisions people make are about essentially about survival. The main concern is that said daughter finds a provider, gets married and moves out, thus continuing the cycle. There is a great deal of room for improvement of worldwide cultural norms and we could do a whole separate post on that issue, but it’s a digression from the point I’m driving at. Don’t be that fool out there playing ignan’t shit and putting on dampers.
It seems that the IN thing right now is collecting and playing out international ghetto music, and little thought seems paid to the content and meaning of the songs. I’m all about getting peoples hands up, dancing and making out at a party but if you insist on co-opting cultures please do try and have some idea of what is being said in the tune. If you don’t know anyone who speaks Portuguese, try asking your friend that speaks Spanish to break down that kuduro song for you. There is a a great depth of cross-cultural significance to be found in Tego’s lyric “los negros se entienden.”
I grew up on the island and in later years, seeing first-hand the decisions friends and family made in terms of relationships I have been forced to internally process similar issues. For instance, the story of my cousin who at age 18 dated a younger girl, moved into her mom’s house, broke up with the girl and started dating her mom in the same house where they sold ganja to feed the family and a horse. Imagine my face as he’s explaining all this sitting next to both these women and factor in his older brother dating the teenage girl before he did. He had to explain it three times for my brain to process that in rural parts of the world and even rural America, stories like this pop up far more often than some would think.
Here’s a great rendition of that same tale as captured in a Perico Ripiao recorded by Luis Quintero y su conjunto Alma Cibaena so many years ago
Luis Quintero – La Mama y La Hija
If you’re searching for more current latinoid stuff check out recent gene-pool mutation Miti Miti based in Harlem for even weirder minimal merengue business.