Pop Music and Culture: CuBop, Up-Rock, Boogaloo and Banda. Latinos Making Music in the United States

Pop Music and Culture: CuBop, Up-Rock, Boogaloo and Banda. Latinos Making Music in the United States

CFA MH333/433 A1

MWF 12-1 CFA (855 Commonwealth) B36

Prof. Michael Birenbaum Quintero

Surveys the musical styles of Latinos in the US. Discusses the role of these musics in articulating race, class, gender and sexual identities for US Latinos, their circulation along migration routes, their role in identity politics and ethnic marketing, their commercial crossover to Anglo audiences, and Latin/o contributions to jazz, funk, doo-wop, disco and hip hop. Case studies may include Mexican-American/Chicano, Puerto Rican/Nuyorican and Cuban-American musics; Latin music in golden age Hollywood; Latin dance crazes from mambo to the Macarena; rock en español; the early 2000s boom of Latin artists like Shakira, Enrique Iglesias, and Jennifer López; reggaetón, race politics, and the creation of the “Hurban” market; and the transnational Latin music industries of Los Angeles, New York, and Miami.

Friday, April 29, 2016

New Trends #2

Another important trend is for young Latinos, even those born and/or raised in the US, to engage traditional music more directly, often in ways that grow out of political activism. Many of these groups also feature women playing more active roles than in the past, which suggests that many of these groups are not only reviving older musical and cultural values, but also changing some of the old-school machismo that is also part of Latino culture.

Such is the case with the East-LA Chicano group, Las Cafeteras. Their version of the traditional (and Richie Valens/Los Lobos covered) song "La Bamba" repurposes the lyrics to talk about crossing borders, and was the theme song for a popular Telemundo soap opera.

Their storyshows their links both to traditional music and to lo cal grassroots activism.

Another young LA Chicano band, La Santa Cecilia.
El Hielo.

There are similar trends on the East coast.Young Puerto Ricans are now doing bomba:

Not only are these groups doing traditional music, they're engaging in different kinds of fusion between different folkloric genres, and with popular music, as with El Barrio stalwarts Yerbabuena.

Another New York-based group, Kalunga has directly confornted some of the exclusions in traditional music. Against the politically loaded division between the Dominican and Haitian nations, Kalunga, consisting of both Dominican and Haitian New Yorkers, performs both Afro-Dominican and Afro-Haitian music, arguing for the unity around a shared frame of blackness.
This trend toward investigation, questioning, and fusion of folkloric music has also been important for young Latinos from newer immigrant groups, as with Colombians.
Traditional group La Cumbiamba Eneyé:
Many of the same musicians with M.A.K.U Sound System:

Wednesday, April 27, 2016

New Trends #1

Changes in the Grammys' categories reflect an increasing consolidation.



Full-on transnationalism

The Mexicanization Sonideros



The Caribbeanization of NY Jazz
Miguel Zenón, who has already worked with plena and música jíbara  and the musical exploration of identity

The new Cuban wave in jazz
Pedrito Martínez
Here in ritual context, with Román Díaz
Román Díaz and Enyenison Enkama - abakuá jazz (Harp solo by the Colombian Edmar Castañeda)

Monday, April 25, 2016

The New Mexican Wave

Intervening factors in the new Mexican musics
  • NAFTA and immigration
  • Anti-immigrant laws (like Proposition 227 in 1998, California and SB 1070 in 2010, Arizona) and border militarization
  • Consolidation of cartels and intensification of drug war
  • Consolidation of music industry (now, Universal, Sony, and Warner - formerly EMI as well)





Tejano (and Selena Quintanilla)

The Onda Grupera - the wave of groups from the Mexican music industry.
For example, Los Bukis, whose leader, Marco Antonio Solís, is still at it today.

A second influence  especially in northern Mexico, is cumbia.

Grupera and cumbia were both influences on the freakishly talented Selena Quintanilla. 

But her story is more complicated than that, involving the familiar story of discrimination against Mexican-Americans in the US music industry, and the consolidation of the Latin music industry in the US - and the troubled place of "Mexican Regional" and Tejano music within that.

Norteño

"Piporro"





The tremendous Tigres del Norte:



Banda and its offspring


Tecno-banda (a grupera version of banda from the late 1980s-early 1990s)


Quebradita (Mexican-American banda dance)



Duranguense - the name refers to the north-central Mexican state of Durango, but the it's actually fast, semi-synthesized banda music from Chicago, taking up Mexican styles and recontextualizing them for Mexican American Chicago in the 2000s.



Another new Mexican-American trend, "hyphy" (or "jai-fi" in Spanish spelling), a north California slang word meaning "hyper." It's basically super-fast corridos that you dance jumping up-and-down, kind of spazzing out. Right? O sea: hyphy…

Another important Mexican musics movement is not a movement but a single singer who is one of the most popular singers in both Mexico and the Mexican-American US - Long Beach, California's Jenni Rivera. Jenny one of 6 children of two undocumented parents. She had a hard life: a teenage mother at 15 who had to work at the flea market to support herself and nonetheless finished high school (and was valedictorian), she would suffer domestic violence, legal wrangle sixth managers and drama. She was known for not taking nonsense and her humongous voice, which gave real feeling to songs of love, loss, infidelity, and anger. The diva to end all divas, she has songs about being a "Partygirl, Rebel and Insolent," about being - not ballsy - but having "Ovaries," and a song telling an ex to "Go Fuck Your Mother."



Narcorridos



The great Chalino Sánchez



Some of the narcocorridos celebrate the courage, humility and heroism of a particular cartel leader...
Others celebrate the catastrophic violence that cartels are able to visit on their enemies





Valentín Elizondo, below, is only one of the many corrido singers who were assassinated.



On the other hand…






Friday, April 22, 2016

FYI: Mexican-American History Resource

In case anyone was interested in doing a project on Mexican-American music, the University Arizona has just digitized their collection of Mexican-American newspapers. Here's the press release, in case you're wondering what's in there,  and here's the collection.

Latin Rap, underground/melaza, reggaetón, the "Hurban" demographic and other hip hop mutant offspring

Although it was Nuyoricans who had participated in early hip hop, the first Latino rappers to break out were from the West Coast. East L.A. Chicano Kid Frost began rapping in the 1980s and broke out with the Chicano Anthem "Mi Raza" ("My People), full of Spanglish, the calo dialect, Chicano images of murals and lowrider, and the memorable line "You're so cool I'ma call you culo [ass]."


Also in 1990,  "Mentirosa,"a  Spanglish, Santana-sampling rap by California Cuban Mellow Man Ace made it to #14 on the Billboard charts and got play on MTV. "'Cuz right now you just a liar / A straight mentirosa (Who me?) / Today you tell me som'n / And tomorrow ejotra cosa." The mini-boom in West Coast Latino rap culminated with the Ecuadorian-born, Glendale, CA-bred rapper Gerardo's easily mocked "Rico Suave," also from 1990-91, which is best described as "so bad it's … bad." After "Rico Suave," which made #7 on the pop charts and #2 on the rap charts, America had had about enough Spanglish rap for the next twenty years or so. (Gerardo Mejía is now a record company executive at Interscope - go figure).

Some Chicano rappers have come up in the 1990s, singing mostly in English. Some, like Cypress Hill, became internationally popular. Others, with a more emphatically Chicano underground aesthetic, kept at it for the local  scene - these range from the gangsta-rapper Mr. Criminal, and Mr. Capon-e, whose music references not only classic West Coast G-funk but also the Chicano love for oldies, a holdover from the early Chicano rock of the 1950s.

By the late 1990s, a number of well-respected Nuyorican rappers, again, rapping mostly in English, came up in New York, most famously the Bronx-based Terror Squad, headed by gangsta's gangsta and rapper's rapper Big Pun (RIP), Fat Joe, and Havana-born Cuban Link). Here's Pun and Joe in a 1998 classic.
In the 1990s, Queens-based Beatnuts (comprised of a Dominican and a Colombian) and more recently, Peru-born, Harlem-resident political rapper Immortal Technique are well regarded in indie hip hop circles.

Hip hop would end up circulating the globe, but with ongoing migration and return migration between the US and Puerto Rico, and people sending mix tapes back and forth, there was already a rap scene in Spanish in the 1980s in Puerto Rico. The pioneering Vico C, whose ghetto philosopher tales of street life made him one of the best known from that place and time. Take, for example his classic "Tony Presidio," about a local boy gone bad, is a great example (although the video now looks laughably low-budget and 1990s-ish).

This will seem like a digression but it isn't:

As Wayne Marshall writes, in the 1990s, New York hip hop, and subsequently Puerto Rican hip hop, was increasingly influenced by Jamaican dancehall reggae. In New York, a significant portion of the black population, especially in Brooklyn, is of Jamaican, Trinidadian, and other West Indian/Caribbean ancestry, including some seminal figures in hip hop: Kool DJ Herc, Notorious BIG, KRS-One, Slick Rick, Busta Rhymes, Li'l Kim, Foxy Brown, and others. By the 1990s, dancehall reggae was, alongside hip hop, an integral part of the soundtrack on the radio, at clubs, and at parties in New York City.

At roughly the same time, dancehall reggae was also popular among people of West Indian descent in Panama, many of whom were bilingual and translated the latest dancehall hits from Jamaica into Spanish. So (for example), Jamaican Little Lenny's English-language anthem to the ladyparts, "Punanny Tegereg" was transformed into "Tu Pum Pum," in Spanish, by Panamanian rapper "El General" in 1989. These Panamanian reggae en español songs were in many cases recorded in New York and became popular among Spanish-speaking Puerto Ricans both in New York and on PR itself.

Dancehall/reggae and rap use different beats (as Marshall helpfully shows us). Hip hop is based on the so-called "boom bap," which rendered graphically, would look something like this.

Dancehall reggae has a lot of different rhythm tracks (called "riddims" in Jamaica) that were often recycled for use in multiple songs. The Bam Bam riddim, for example, was popular. However, the most popular of all was the Dem Bow riddim, named after the song "Dem Bow" (1991) by Shabba Ranks (and soon covered by El General in Panama).
The song and its riddim (which is closely related to the "Poca Man Jam" riddim), is basically a tresillo rhythm superimposed over a straight four count - that is, a habanera.
The "Dem Bow" riddim would become the backbone of reggaetón. First however, a scene emerged in Puerto Rico associated with the Afro-Puerto Rican underclass of the island's housing projects or caseríos - usually called underground or melaza. This music was released in mixtapes. Here, none other than Vico C explains that the same artists rapped over both hip hop and the Dem Bow beat that would become reggaetón:

On the underground mixtapes, MC's in PR rapped over a background constructed out of samples. These samples rapidly changed between the dancehall-associated dembow and hip hop's boom bap. The famous Playero 38 mixtape for example, released by the San Juan-based DJ Playero in 1993 features (among others) a young Daddy Yankee.

Before  the first two minutes of the tape are up, we hear a Jamaican-style double-time introduction, then dancehall influenced rapping over a West Coast hip hop beat, which turns into the dancehall "Hot Dis Year riddim" before segueing into the beat from Queens hip hoppers' De La Soul's "Talkin' Bout Hey Love," and then back to "Hot Dis Year." Beyond its musical innovation, the melaza scene is important for its explicit borrowing, through hip hop inspired fashion and dance as well as music, of a transnational and expressly black identity, something rarely seen in the Caribbean.

By the turn of the millennium, the conversion of underground/melaza into reggaetón begins (although no one knew it yet). Free and easily downloadable beat-making programs became available online, making it possible for this with access to computers and the internet able to make beats. One of the most important was the free program Fruity Loops (now "FL Studio"). By the time of his 1999 mixtape, Playero 41, DJ Playero's beats (as on "Todas las yales" with Daddy Yankee) were almost entirely synthesized rather than sampled (and heavily influenced by techno music), although the music still featured shifts between dembow and hiphop beats. By 2000, the predominant beat was a Puerto Rican version of Dem Bow featuring bass drops and a syncopated synthesized timbal.

The Puerto Rican underground scene also inspired Francisco "Luny" Saldana  and Victor "Tunes" Cabrera, two Dominican-born DJs from the unlikely setting of Peabody, Massachusetts, a suburb with a mostly white population, who cooked up beats after work as cook and dishwasher at a Harvard University residence house. The beats made by the two were sleek and pop-friendly, beginning with their 2003 "Quiero saber" track with Ivy Queen.
Luny Tunes' 2003 mixtape Más Flow was a sensation in Puerto Rico, and set the formula for reggaetón."Gasolina," their 2004 track for Daddy Yankee was a worldwide mega-hit. In case you spent that year in a coma, it sounded like this.

Luny Tunes' rise coincided with  the moment at which the record industry started to look to market to young Latinos. In the wake of the 1999-2000 "Latin Boom" in pop music, the "hurban" market aimed to unite Latino young people - East Coast Caribbean, West Coast Mexican, Americans, and the sizable markets of Latin America itself, under the banner of so-called "Hispanic-Urban" or "Hurban" music. By 2005, Spanish-language radio stations, owned by gymongous media conglomerates like Clear Channel and the US-based Spanish-language Univisión empire,   across the country was moving to a "Hurban" format featuring reggaetón, hip hop, and dance-oriented pop.

New York's "La Kalle" radio (2006)
Hurban radio (2005)
Hurban (2005)
Wayne Marshall on hurban renewal
The deliberate appeals to a Latinos of various national ancestries, both in and out of the US, is clear in "Oye mi canto," produced by Boy Wonder, a NYC-born musician of Dominican and Puerto Rican descent. The song (featuring Daddy Yankee and Nuyorican N.O.R.E., and PR-born, NY-based vocal duo Nina Sky) explicitly mentions number of different countries, and the video uses flags (helpfully supported by scantily-clad models) to make the international appeal explicit.
This international appeal also is partially responsible for the rise of bachata-influenced reggaetón like Wissin y Yandel's "Mayor que yo," featuring the twangy bachata guitar sound.
In many places, there has been a strong counter-reaction to reggaetón, often in terms that both decry its crass commercialism and sexuality, and that make veiled or explicit sneers at its Afro-Latino or working-class associations. On reggaetón as tasteless (or not): El Reggaetón es para nacos (Reggaetón es for "nacos"), Me gusta el reggaetón y no soy naco (I'm not a "naco" and I like reggaetón), and The National Anti-Reggaetón Brigade.

Reggaetón also has a (slightly) less commercial wing. The Afro-Rican rapper (who went to school in Miami) Tego Calderón makes songs, beginning with his 2003 album "El Abayarde"  that are explicitly focused on black Latin Americans, such as his song "Loiza,"  referencing an Afro-Puero Rican town, that samples the traditional Afro-Puerto Rican drum/dance called bomba:


Calle 13, featuring two white, art-school educated stepbrothers began their career in 2005 with an extremely political track called "Querido FBI" reacting to the FBI's assassination of a well-known activist for Puerto Rican independence, and followed that with the profane goofiness of songs like "Atreve-te-te-te," an international hit in 2006. Their more recent work is also artsy and political, internationalist, and increasingly distant from the classic reggaetón sound. Meanwhile, the dembow-centered, Luny Tunes-derived version of reggaetón has softened since about 2009 (and Hurban radio has declined), in favor of a broader palette of sounds and beats for so-called "música urbana."

Meanwhile, in other countries, reggaetón and its cousins keep morphing in their own terms. Some more modern Panamanian bultrón/plena/reggae(tón) - Kufu Bantón's "Vamos pa' la playa" ("A pasarla bien con los friends"). Notice the use of R. Kelly's "Thoia Thong" track. The roots reggae and dub influence remains strong in Panamanian reggae - for example in El Rookie's "Grave Error" (although Rookie also sings more reggaetón-styled music, in some cases in collaboration with Puerto Rican producers).

Reegaetón has sired mutant offspring all through the world. Its  sub-genre in the DR is called, appropriately, dembow.

Here it is in Colombia:

Puerto Rican reggaetón vocalists also regularly appear in salsa there.



Wednesday, April 20, 2016

Miami: The Latin/o Music Industry Sound Machine



The Latino population in the US has sextupled itself since 1970.

As one of the fastest-growing population groups, this also means that Latinos are rapidly becoming one of the largest sectors in U.S. society, passing African-Americans as the largest non-white group in the US in the 2000 census.



This growth is increasingly fueled by US-born Latinos.
So, understandably, advertisers, politicians, and the media are tripping over themselves to endear themselves to Latinos. However, Latino remains a complicated category.
The music industry is no exception. Latino music grew by 20% every year in the 1980s, with proliferating subcategories: Tropical (salsa, merengue, bachata), Regional Mexican and Tejano, and Spanish-language rock, pop, and alternative. 1998 figures show that of this, more than half the sales were of Mexican styles, and 23% Tropical. 
So the industry is still looking for the secret sauce to get at all the prized demographics. And not just the record industry:


OK. The new Latino generation is out there. It primarily speaks English but supposedly 'feels' Latin (according to many published studies). Why then, isn't it buying the alternative, edgier Latin music that should appeal to it? Perhaps because it's in Spanish. Whoever resolves this riddle will make a bundle. (Billboard, 2004)
There have been a couple of approaches. One has been marketing Latinos, singing in English, to non-Latinos. The groundbreaking act in this sense was the Miami-based Gloria Estefan and Miami Sound Machine. A song like Conga is in this sense, a direct predecessor to the Latin Boom of the 2000s, but with more Latino (in this case Cuban) musical elements.

RMM records, which took up the mantle of New York and Puerto Rican salsa after the decline of Fania, aimed at a particularly modern, bicultural sound. Producer Sergio George took up young Nuyorican singers who had dedicated themselves to freestyle music, like La India and Marc Anthony, and get them to sing a new, youthful brand of salsa (see also DLG and Proyecto Uno).

The big shift was in the music industry, as RMM went out of business and the 2000 census projected Latino demographic dominance in the US. The Latin music industry shifted toward Miami (and Los Angeles, which we'll talk about next week), where South Beach had been renovated in the 1990s, a large, educated, bilingual population arrived from Latin America. Emilio Estefá's Crescent Moon Studios, a Sony affiliate, brings in 200 million a year.

Christina Aguilera "goes Latin" at the Latin Grammys

Although her own attachment to Latino culture was learned late. The Latin/Latino/Latin American (and Brazilian) music industry throws a party for itself: the Latin Grammys

Monday, April 11, 2016

Dominican Music


Traditional Afro-Domincan musics include  various religious drumming traditions such as salve, congo, and palo. (Check out this great Afropop resource for more on traditional Afro-Domonocan music). Below, by way of example, salve.


And the music of Haitian migrant workers, called gagá:



These musics remain very much looked down on, for being black and for their links with Haiti. The national music is merengue. Merengue típico, derived from the Cibao region, usually features an accordion, a güira (metal cousin to the güiro), the tambora - a drum played with one stock and one bare hand -, and often a saxophone and a bass. The tempo is generally fast, with repeated short phrases.



Under the dictator Rafael Leonidas Trujillo, who ruled the country 1930-1961, merengue was orchestrated standardized and used to sing the praises of the nation and its leader.


It was also some pretty kick-ass dance music…


As early as the 1950s, the bandleader Ángel Viloria was performing merengue in New York

After 1965, Dominicans began o stream into New York City. By 1980, merengue was enjoying a commercial boom in the Latin music industry in the US as a party music. With the rise of salsa romántica, merengue was increasingly popular as a dance music, as in the 1980s classic by the Rosario Brothers:

Matching uniforms, goofy dance moves, and other gimmicks were part of the way the music was marketed and presented. (This was the 80s).

As migration intensified, New York City became the place where a lot of merengue was being made - both in "Dominican York" fusions with pop, hip hop, and house music …

… and with a revival of the old-school típico style that was happening more among nostalgic New York Dominicans than on the island itself, as in this Queens, NY house party.

Bachata music started in the DR as a guitar-based singing of sad songs like boleros, and was associated with the lower classes who had migrated form the country to the cities.
Because of the upheavals of that group, bachata tended to focus on themes of distance or of inter-gender conflict.
New innovations included a particular electric guitar sound, and a more standardized instrumentation and rhythm.
Sometimes the ensemble was used to play merengue.
More elaborated forms by white, upper-class, musically sophisticated musicians like Juan Luis Guerra raised the status of the previously vilified music.
As we will see, bachata has become a staple of the pop en español music industry, catering both to US Latinos (on both coasts) and in Latin America itself.





Friday, April 8, 2016

The club scene: disco, freestyle, Hi-NRG, voguing

In New York, Los Angeles, and Chicago, Latinos played a central role in the formation of disco and its hip-hop- and electro-influenced successors.

Joe Bataan was born in 1942 to a Filipino father and an African-American mother, grew up in Nuyorican East Harlem and was culturally Nuyorican, even leading a Puerto Rican gang as a young man. His music would always have a primarily Latino audience. Like many of his peers, he was influenced by doo-wop and, later, boogaloo, as can be seen in his 1967 boogaloo cover of "Gypsy Woman" by the (Jewish Mambo influenced) African-American R&B/doo-wop group The Impressions (where Curtis Mayfield got his start). He signed with Fania records and did a number of R&B influenced Latin recordings in English and Spanish (like "Para Puerto Rico Voy.") In the 1970s his work on the SalSoul record label was primarily influenced by funk and disco (which was popularized by Italian-American, Puerto Rican, and some African-American dancers), with musicians who were fluent in both those forms and salsa.
At the time, Latinos, making the post-disco, post-hip hop music called freestyle or Hi-NRG, which was basically an early electronic dance music.
Some musicians, like Lisa Lisa and Cult Jam would do fairly well

… and this is the scene that Madonna would eventually emerge from. The gay discos of black and brown NYC also birthed voguing, which Madonna celebrated/ripped off. Freestyle has been partially resurrected as part of the electro revival. This was true among New York Puerto Ricans, who were often working within the music industry. In Los Angeles too, a Latino DJ scene evolved as well, often with the same music - the Southern California Backyard jams are commemorated in this great website.

A new, more youthful kind of salsa also came out of the freestyle scene in the '90s, with artists like La India and Marc Anthony.

Next semester (shameless plug)

A shameless plug for next semester's Afro-Latin Music Ensemble (World Music Ensemble, MH561)

This is what it looked like when I taught it at Bowdoin.

Some things we might do:

Afro-Colombian currulao:

Afro-Colombian gaita and cumbia:

Afro-Cuban  batá (Santería):
Afro-Cuban güiro:
Afro-Peruvian landó:
And likely other amazing stuff.

Wednesday, April 6, 2016

Nuyoricans, Hip Hop and the Burning Bronx

Bronx, NY


A great online resource by old school South Bronx PR breaker Mr. Wiggles

Black, Puerto Rican, and West Indian Bronxites, MCing, freaking to the beat,  and feeling gang tensions at a good old fashioned block party from the Bronx gang documentary 80 Blocks from Tiffany's.

The abandonment of the Bronx
Gang life in the Bronx

Music at the time.
Disco and funk, often Latin-inflected, like the stuff on the Salsoul label, led by boogaloo pioneer Joe Bataan and a coterie of Nuyorican salsa musicians who also played on the label's disco-funk tracks.
Even salsa took on some disco elements, like the string arrangements in Hector Lavoe's classic "El Cantante."

DJ's like Kool Herc started bringing big sound systems and chattin' to jams at public parks, tennis courts, and apartment rec rooms to play this music. Abandoned buildings were another place that kids would set up clubs.


Meanwhile, a song would have a particular break. which people would clamor for..  Some break beats
"It's Just Begun" by the Jimmy Castor Bunch(break at about 2:11)
"Apache" by the Incredible Bongo Band (break at about 2:21)
"Amen Brother" by The Winstons, at 1:27 is the famous six-second break that not only was used extensively in early hip hop but spawned entire subcultures like drum-and-bass and jungle
Sample-era classic hip-hop breaks-cum-beats.
Those who danced the breaks developed styles like uprock and downrock, dancing the breaks - these were the B-Boys.
When the DJ Grandmaster Flash invented backspinning, a track could be looped by a DJ to become the basis of a hip hop song.
One important Puerto Rican DJ was Charlie Chase (born Carlos Mandes).

Gang truce and the Bambaata dances.
Gangs reformulated themselves as competitive crews.
Some were dedicated to graffiti. Subway Montage from Wild Style, music by Grandmaster Caz
The same was true of basketball and especially  dancers and DJs. B-Boy battles in particular were serious business.
Cold Crush Brothers vs. Fantastic 5, with Puerto Ricans Charlie Chase, Ruby Dee and Whipper-Whip
70s Bronx hip hop as is in Wild Style


Hip hop culture starting appearing in movies and other movies, and even commercials like these, and MC's started recording original tracks. As this went on, Puerto Ricans were marginalized, in part because they were more associated with B-Boying than the previously marginal MCing, and partially because they did not appear in movies - most of the US outside New York did not really know what a Puerto Rican was. With the rise of Michael Jackson, breakdancing peaked and the Puerto Ricans were out.