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Popularity of Mexican narco-ballads growing in California

US CULTURE | 31 de octubre de 2011

Juan Carlos Ramírez-Pimienta, professor at San Diego State University and author of the book "Song to the narcos", sees as fashion the songs of 'Altered Movement' a sort of unofficial chronicle of the drug war. EFE

San Diego, Oct 31 (EFE).- Becoming ever more popular in Southern California is the "Movimiento Alterado," a type of northern Mexican music that chronicles the drug war, often celebrating violence and criminal leaders.

The presence in California of the musical genre comes in response to migratory flows and the porosity of the frontier, Juan Carlos Ramirez-Pimienta, professor of Mexican literature at San Diego State University Imperial Valley Campus, told Efe.

Ramirez-Pimenta, author of "Cantar a los narcos: voces y versos del narcocorrido" (Singing to the Traffickers: Voices and Verses of the Narcocorrido), said Movimiento Alterado is the consequence of Mexican President Felipe Calderon's offensive against the cartels, a campaign that has cost more than 40,000 lives.

The trend had its origins in the western state of Sinaloa, makes heavy use of "Spanglish" and celebrates the violent part of drug trafficking, extolling decapitations, murders, bullets and luxury SUVs.

"The transition toward magnified violence, which involves beheadings and chopping (bodies) to pieces, is reflected in the songs of the movement," said Ramirez-Pimienta.

The professor says that both fashion and the songs are an unofficial history of this bloody struggle, given that the official accounts offered by Mexican authorities "are as fantastic as those of any narco-ballad."

"There are many types of different messages: It's a song of war, it can be an apology for combatants but also (can be) accounts that allow the history of this phase in Mexico to be elaborated upon. They are an invaluable source that helps to explain what's happening," he said.

"The songwriters are very young, the majority of them between 19 and 23, very talented and accordion virtuosos," the author says. "They help tell stories from below, illuminating the question of who has the right to tell the story beyond the version of the Mexican state."

Movimiento Alterado is associated with brothers Adolfo and Omar Valenzuela, known as "Los Twiins" and founders of the likenamed company, who began a collaboration with Snoop Dogg to make a reality show broadcast by pay channel Mun2.

Los Twiins, who studies classical music and jazz at the Los Angeles conservatory, have also worked with mainstream artists such as Thalia, Chayanne and Don Omar.

In the fashion world, an example of this culture is the success of Eleno Serna's Antrax Clothing, which is sold at three shops in California.

The clothing line includes shirts with illustrations of gunbattles and allusions to drug kingpins.

Meanwhile, in Mexico Alfredo Rios, "El Komander," is one of the most popular artists associated with the Movimiento Alterado, and in the United States the social networks are functioning as a springboard for artists such as Los Buchones De Culiacan, los BuKnas De Culiacan, Oscar Garcia and Convictos CLN.

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