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Music is an important part of any oral tradition and plays a significant role in telling the tales of heroes and villains, historical events, revolutions, repressions, love and heroic deeds in human history. Mexico is not an exception. The Corrido is a good example of a form of music that has played a significant role in popularizing individuals, events, love, romance, worker’s plight and melancholy (McDowell 253).
Among the most important and popular corrido bands is the Los Tigres Del Norte, A Mexican Ballard band formed in the late 1960s. The relationship between the 20th century corrido folk music and the Los Tigres Del Norte is significant, given the group’s ability to popularize contemporary issues affecting Mexicans such as drug trafficking, immigration, love and romance.
The History of the Corrido
Before the arrival of the electronic mass media in the 20th century, the corrido was the main channel for passing information and education. Although the origin of the corrido is not known, the earliest versions of the oral tradition were mainly in Spanish and talked about Spanish tales related to love, romance, adventure, war and repressions (McDowell 249). For instance, ‘La Martina’ and ‘La Delgadina’ are some of the basic versions that formed the corridos of the 18th and 19th centuries.
However, the genre gained popularity during the Mexican War of Independence (1810-1821), where it flourished and acquired several new aspects such as epic tones and narrative structures (McDowell 258). During this period, the corrido’s main themes were heroic events during the war, heroes and guerilla or propaganda that eulogized war leaders, troops and guerrilla movements or mock those opposed to the war. Again, the corrido gained popularity during the Mexican Revolution of 1910-1921 for the same purposes, but in support of the revolutionists (McDowell 259).
Nevertheless, the corrido experienced significant changes in the 20th century, especially due to the emergence of new social, cultural and economic issues affecting the communities (Paredes 16). Immigration, cross-boarder robbery and drug trafficking became the most important social issues that were addressed in the corrido (McDowell 253). Most Mexican corrido bands addressed the problems that the Mexicans were undergoing when attempting to cross the US border (Paredes 21). In fact, the “narcoccorridos” derives its name from the form of corrido music that addressed the issues of narcotic trade across the US-Mexico border.
The History of Les Tigres Del Norte
Known in English as ‘The Tigers of the North’, Les Tigres Del Norte is an American-Mexican Norteno-band currently based in San Jose, California. However, it originated from Rosa Morada in Mocorito, Mexico. Eduardo Hernandez, a farmer in Rosa Miranda, had five sons. They were in their teen ages when he was injured and left totally incapacitated. Jorge, his oldest son, mobilized his brothers Hernan and Raul and their cousin Oscar to play music in local pubs in order to provide for their family (McDowell 262).
Here, an American promoter offered them a chance to play during the Mexican Independent day cerebrations. In 1968, they convinced a Mexican couple to pose as their parents in order to get entry into the US, which earned them the name “Small Tigers”. In the US, an Englishman named Art Walker discovered them and allowed them to sign in his Fama Records. In 1970s, they released various hits, including the ‘Contradanda y Taicon’, which narrated the stories of Mexican drug traffickers.
The relationship between Corrido and LosTigres Del Norte
The Los Tigres have been active in revolutionizing the classic Mexican corrido. While the classic corrido genre told stories of revolutions, revolutionaries, heroes and bandits, the Los Tigres have been concentrating on some issues that happen during their times (McDowell 263). In particular, the drug culture and tales of drug lords and curriers have been the main events happening during their lives (McDowell 264).
McDowell, John. ‘The Ballards of Narcomexico’.Journal of Folklore Research, 49.3 (2012), 249-275. Print
Paredes, Americo. ‘Jose Mosqueda and the folklorization of actual events’.Aztlan 4.1 (1974), 1-29. Print.