<em>Really</em> Tough Music Critics In Mexico

Well known Mexican singer Valentin Elizalde was chased down and shot dead after a concert Saturday in Reynosa by two carloads of men armed with automatic weapons. He was blown away in front of dozens of witnesses, since drug gangs do as they please in Mexico. Elizalde sang narcocorridos, songs praising the exploits of drug criminals -- think gangsta rap with sombreros.

Such musical stylings sell well in Mexico (and in areas of high Mexican density in the US), where criminality is admired. A fellow emphasizing a macho swagger with his narco-ditties can make a good living by appealing to the worst in Mexican culture, pretending that drug smuggling is a romantic enterprise rather than lowlife thuggery.
Valentin Elizalde

But becoming associated with drug cartels has serious health-related drawbacks. The same people Elizalde celebrated in song are stone-cold killers. And when you honor one drug kingpin, you insult his enemies, not a wise strategy for a long life [Mexican singer dead, ambushed after concert, San Francisco Chronicle 11/26/06].

This month, Elizalde received the "Soloist of the Year" prize at Los Premios de la Radio awards for regional Mexican music held at the Gibson Amphitheater in Hollywood. He was depicted in a mural in Pico Rivera, a Southern California hotbed of norteńo music, last December.

He also wrote lyrics honoring one of Mexico's most notorious drug lords, Joaquin "El Chapo" Guzman, leader of the Sinaloa Cartel. Last year, he sang one of his narcocorridos, ballads honoring the exploits of drug dealers, to a crowd of more than 3,000 convicts at the Puente Grande prison in the central state of Jalisco.

Guzman escaped from a neighboring prison in 2001 and remains at large.

Notice that USA connection? Southern California has no shortage of Mexican musical diversity -- and all that goes with it.