FEATURE: Tribal Guarachero: Mexican Teens & Aztec History

It’s hard to believe that the U.S. border is only two hours away, but that’s the magic of Monterrey, Mexico’s richest city. The confi dent sprawl exerts its own cultural gravity. Closeness to the U.S. keeps it looking outward. The city prides itself on a century of bustling industry, a long legacy of bringing raw material from around the Americas, where they get transformed, capitalized on, and exported. Same thing happens with the music. Outside of Mexico, DJs like Sinden, J-Wow from Buraka Som Sistema and Nguzunguzu are starting to spike their sets with tribal guarachero. Hovering around 130BPM, the music’s syncopated street bump blends well across the house spectrum. Crowds in London or New York may hear it as quirky, catchy house with funky shuffl es, but back in Monterrey it’s aligned closely enough with uncool working class music that I saw Rincon and Sheeqo clear the dancefl oor during their fi rst-ever performance for non-teenagers at the upscale venue Jaguar House. The kinetic pull of their music eventually won crowds back, shaking out class divides as everybody got crunk. In their home territory of ArcoIris, these kids are kings from start to finish.

Sheeqo tends towards percussion-heavy tracks. Rincon’s set is more playful. Simple three-note basslines pump along frisky drum patterns. The genre has gotten more synthy over the past few years, and part of Rincon’s mission is to integrate synth melodies with his beloved cumbia and pre-Hispanic. Most of the music played is his own—“Cumbia de Nuevo León Remix,” “La Bomba Remix,” “Magdalena”—and he mixes energetically. While tribal guarachero has signature sounds, the party DJs stay open: They take extended forays into reggaeton, some crunk en Español or, at the right moment, a slowed-down cumbia rebajada. When they drop reggaeton, they don’t play radio-ready summer tunes, which are big across Mexico. They play beats: dancefl oor edits, chopped up vocals. Dem Bow is everywhere. The signature bass/guitar lick from Chaka Demus & Pliers’ reggae classic “Murder She Wrote” is the most common sample of the day.

“Tribal Guarachero is catharsis, sonic catharsis.” —Toy Selectah

Monterrey’s love affair with bassy dance music, accordions (sampled or real), and technology goes back at least four decades, when they invented a new genre just by pitching cumbia records way down. “The music was getting too fast to dance to,” say Marquillos Colombia, the cumbia rebajada specialist, “so we slowed it down.” Marquillos has been supplying Monterrey’s cumbia fans for 15 years from a tiny sidewalk stand. On his arm, a time-smudged tattoo shows a red-eyed Donald Duck clutching a bottle of liquor as he confronts a cop in full riot gear. Three of us crowd under his sheet-metal roof to escape a tropical downpour; the fourth guy doesn’t fit and stands outside with a plastic bag on his head. Marquillos plays another rebajada at stomach-rattling volume, then resumes talking quietly. He explains that Monterrey’s obsession with Colombian cumbias goes deep, they just have to adjust it sometimes: changing the tempo, replaying it with local bands to draw the bass and grooves away from Colombian virtuosity. Everywhere else in the world, these dusty old cumbias are seen as old people’s music, but here, teenagers are some of his best customers.

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POSTED October 13, 2010 11:29AM IN FEATURES Comments (9) TAGS: , , , , , , ,




  1. rizzla says:

    a perfectly written account of a dream-scene – thx rupture

  2. Austin Shook says:

    so cool man. cant wait to visit mty

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  4. Michael says:

    the post sounds good interesting

    too bad is a fukin lie

    i live in monterrey and all this information is innacurate
    they r just trying to make it sound like a dangerous fun city but mty is boring as fuk

    that place they mention ARCOIRIS is not a place for teenagers that like different music to meet
    it is in fact a low-life place where Male homosexuals can pay to teens for prostituion and in this place you can only hear to reggeaton (plain and simple nothing experimental) old house music like “magic orgasm” and a lot of folklore music (colombias and shit nothing experimental)

    to say that this kind of tribal-cumbia-techno music is growing fast in monterrey is nothing else but a big fukin lie

    if some kind of music is growing very fast here at mty that will be the BANDA music and things like that thats pure folklor from culiacan sinaloas and places like that

    About Toy SElecta and his friends ilk have to say they are just a music mafia that wants to monopolize and overstock all places where music is being played

    But Nortec wont happen 2 times and there is a lot of thing on monterrey with a lot more talent that are being ignored only because they dont imitate the wining “FORMULA” of mixing mexican-craft with techno


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