This past weekend, the N.Y. Times‘ Travel section revisited Los Angeles, focusing on narcocorridos and venues that play an important part in its spread throughout Los Angeles. It went better this time than the last time they visited L.A.
Narcocorridos, and by extension, any form of Mexican music that is born and nourished in Los Angeles, are not covered much in the United States. Almost every time narcocorridos are mentioned in media, it’s tied with the current Mexican Drug war fiasco and spoken about negatively. I once sat in on a discussion with a well-known Mexican journalist at a university and she all but blamed the whole situation in Mexico & the Americas on narcocorridos. The whole time I sat there, I shook my head, unable to comprehend how someone could explicitly blame corridos for the “drug war” in México.
Coverage of narcocorridos in the U.S. is much different than in México. The United States is much less subjective than México in its coverage of narcocorridos. Mexican journalists have bought the Mexican government’s argument that narcocorridos are to blame for the drug trade and must be banned from radio play. American journalists have gone further into narcocorridos, documenting its rise and popularity among Mexicans in the United States and the constant airplay in radio. It’s a musical form that allows the children of Mexican immigrants to become immensely popular, though the singing is sometimes sub-par.
The N.Y. Times did a good job with this article, going around to small bars locations around mostly South-Central & Southeast L.A., the origins of most forms of Mexican music & artists that have emerged from L.A. (Voces del Rancho, Chalino Sanchez, Adan “Chalino” Sanchez, Saúl Viera “El gavilancillo,” Pedro, Lupillo, & Jenni Rivera, etc.). Of course, no article about contemporary Mexican music in Los Angeles can ignore Chalino Sánchez and this article is not the exception.
I don’t know what more to say about the article. I think it’s a good primer on Mexican music in Los Angeles, as good as can be expected from any Travel section. While most Travel sections stay the hell away from any area between Downtown L.A. and the beaches of southern Los Angeles county, this article treated them better than I’ve heard some people in L.A. talk about these areas.
DISCLOSURE: The owners of El Farallon & El Dorado Night Club are relatives of mine. Additionally, many workers at these establishments, past and present, are relatives or family friends.