Sunday, December 8, 2013

Tijuana Remixed: Molotov, Nortec Collective, and Faca

This is part of a multi-part post: Tijuana Day Trip

Last week our side trip to Tijuana, Mexico via Highway 101 led us into the world of Mexican rock and roll.  This week we continue down that path. Of course, in the 50's and 60's there was no such thing as rap music and electronic music was still pretty primitive. Things have changed and the modern Tijuana music in my collection leans more to the electronic and hip hop direction.

The next artist to make its way into the playlist is not really a band from Tijuana, they are from Mexico City.  Molotov were formed in 1995 and have won four Latin Grammy Awards and the band's albums have seen gold and platinum sales in Mexico, Argentina and Colombia, Chile and the United States.. They have been called, by some, Mexico's Rage Against The Machine. It's not a bad comparison. Molotov are a group of four guys, Three who are Mexican and one who is American. They play a bass and Guitar hybrid of hip hip and punk rock in a blend of Spanish and English. They have achieved success with their politically charged music addressing social issues, immigration and Mexican politics. Their song "Gimme Tha Power" criticized Mexico's one party system in the late 1990's. It was reflective of a lot of the populations feelings at the time. In 2000 PRI, Mexico's ruling party at the time, was lost its first Presidential election since the 1940's.

In spite of a fairly leftist political stance the band have garnered some anger and controversy from segments of the LGBT community. In one of their songs, "Puto" the word maricon is used. A slur for homosexuals, the band attempted to defend itself by saying that it was Mexico City street slang for "coward" and that no homophobic intent was there. They have since pulled the word from the song in live performance and have donated a portion of tour proceeds to LGBT organizations. Their facebook page included the following as an apology:
"We are saddened by the recent attack on Esteban Navarro in Chile. This was an act of discrimination and hatred which cannot be tolerated and no one should be a target of violence because they are LGBT.  As an act of solidarity with Esteban Navarro and the LGBT community, we are choosing to refrain from using the word 'maricón' in our song lyrics during our upcoming U.S. tour.  This word was used by Esteban's assailants in this pointless attack, and therefore, has no place in our set.

We celebrate everyone's freedom of expression, equality and the freedom to love whomever they choose … We plan to speak out about all forms of prejudice at our upcoming concerts, as well as, conduct a media tour in the United States and Latin America to share our sentiments."
So that's a little background on Molotov. Their album Dance And Dense Denso is the next addition to the Highway 101 playlist  I know am cheating a bit here, using a group from Mexico City, but with some justification. Their song "Frijolero" is what caught my attention as a music listener. And even though the song talks about border issues in Texas, those same isuues occur in Tijuana. The issues of race, and politics, and history, and economics, and culture all seem to come together at the border. "Frijolero" is Spanish for Beaner and the song is a conversation between a young Mexican and a Border Patrol agent. Musically it blends rap over elements of norteno music (the ranchero music popular in the border regions). The lyrics are fairly harsh, certainly NSFW. Here they are with translations, you have been warned:


“MEXICAN POINT OF VIEW” – (Spoken in Gringo Accent)

Yo ya estoy hasta la madre de que me pongan sombrero
Escucha entonces cuando digo no me llames frijolero
Y aunque exista algun respeto y no metamos las narices
Nunca inflamos la moneda haciendo guerra a otros paises
Te pagamos con petroleo e intereses nuestra deuda
Mientras tanto no sabemos quien se queda con la feria
Aunque nos hagan la fama de que somos vendedores
De la droga que sembramos ustedes son consumidores


I’m sick and tired of them putting this   hat on me
Listen now when I tell you – don’t call me “frijolero” (beaner)
And though there’s some respect and we don’t interfere
We never inflate currency making war on other countries
We pay you our debt with oil and interests
But we don’t know who winds up with the change
Although we are famous for being the sellers
of the drugs we grow , you all are the consumers


“GRINGO POINT OF VIEW (spoken in “Frijolero” video by a U.S. border patrol agent):

Don’t call me gringo, you fuckin beaner
Stay on your side of the goddamn river
Don’t call me gringo you beaner

“MEXICAN POINT OF VIEW”  RESPONSE  (Spoken in Gringo Accent):

No me digas beaner, Mr. Puñetero
Te sacare un susto por racista y culero
No me llames frijolero , pinche gringo puñetero

Don’t call me beaner, Mr. Masturbator
I’ll give you a scare for being a racist and “culero”(“coward” -derived  from term for  anus)
Don’t call me “frijolero”, cunt gringo masturbator

Now I wish I had a dime for every single time
I’ve gotten stared down for being in the wrong side of town
And a rich man I’d be if I had that kind of chips
Lately I wanna smack the mouths of these racists

Podras imaginarte desde afuera,
Ser un mexicano cruzando la frontera.
Pensando en tu familia mientras que pasas,
Dejando todo lo que tu conoces atrás.
Si tuvieras tu que esquivar las balas?
De unos cuantos gringos rancheros?
Les seguiras deciendo (sic)  good for nothing wetback?
Si tuvieras tu que empezar de cero? 

Now why don’t you look down to
Where your feet is planted
That U.S. soil that makes you take shit for granted
If not for Santa Ana, just to let you know
That where your feed are planted would be Mexico

TRANSLATION (English sections included to retain continuity):

           Now I wish I had a dime for every single time
           I’ve gotten stared down for being in the wrong side of town
          And a rich man I’d be if I had that kind of chips
          Lately I wanna smack the mouths of these racists
          Can you imagine yourself
          As a Mexican crossing the border
          Thinking of your family while you cross
          Leaving all you know behind
          What if you had to dodge bullets
          Of some gringo ranchers
          Would you keep saying “good for nothing wetback?”
          If you had to start from scratch?
          Now why don’t you look down to
          Where your feet is planted
          That U.S. soil that makes you take shit for granted
          If not for Santa Ana, just to let you know  
          That where your feed are planted would be Mexico
The video won a few few aawrds for its animation. And, interestingly, MTV decided to bleep out the Spanish curse words yet left the English ones intact. Go figure.

As you can see, this is highly charged song and it is absolutely an extended middle finger at American foreign policies as well as the racist attitudes that exist on both sides if the border. I don't mean by sharing this song to launch into a political debate. Much like "Anarchy In The UK" by the Sex Pistols, the rage and the music attract me even though I don't necessarily agree with everything the song says. I do agree with the songs point of view that a lot (not all) of the concern over Mexican immigration is racist. The border situation is a complex subject, though. There are many non racial aspects to address and the whole subject can be better discussed in detail in a more appropriate forum. This is a music blog, mostly. Now back to the music. But first, your download links:
Dance And Dense Denso

Leaving the anger of Molotov behind, we move forward to a Tijuana group that isn't really a group. Nortec Collective really are a collective of individual mix artists from the Tijuana area that have grouped themselves together to share resources rather than to collaborate artistically, if that makes sense. They do share a certain commonality to their styles however. Their sound is described as a blend of electronica music with elements of Norteno and Tombora Music. I have one of their albums, Nortec Collective Presents Bostich+Fussible: Tijuana Sound Machine, and it is the next addition to our Highway 101 playlist. This video of the title track should give you an idea of their sound.

I also have several individual tracks from other albums that have made their way into my collection. These are the next tracks on the playlist and they are (click the title for download link):
Dandy Del Sur
Esa Banda En Dub (feat. Calexico)
Funky Tamazula
Tijuana Makes Me Happy
Olvidela Compa (Rosco Remix)
Tijuana Bass
Here is a link for the album featured, visit our gift shop (link at the bottom of the page) for more downloadable goodness.

The last artist I will be mentioning today is probably my favorite of the three and the one I am able to find the least info on.Their artist bio from 8Tracks says:
faca is an electro, surf, pop, big beat, a go-go, lo-fi and electroclash band from Barijuana (Bariloche), Argentina and Tijuana, Mexico. The band members are Facundo Delgado and Valeria Leyva, they claim to make fun-playful and innocent commercial surf for all the continent. They met online and they produce their music and change their material via msn.

I like their sound  a lot and frankly, find it hard to put into words. This excerpt from the blog MotelDeMocha says it well:
These are some things that come to my mind while listening to Faca: loopful electrosurf /*/ beach movies, a pair of fashion friendly sunglasses, an ad for Coca Cola starring the Munsters, Speedy Gonzales on magnetized loops, a wilded-up (how I love making up words) Ennio Morricone on cheap speed and PeeWee Herman in that biker bar among others.
They have a fun, if slightly noir, lo-fi surf sound that makes me want to jump around like an idiot. That's a good thing. It amazes me that an online collaboration could produce this kind of edgy energy. Brilliant!

I have just handful of Faca's songs in my collection, but they had to be included in our Tijuana visit. They are, with download links where possible:
Mi Deporte Favorito
Apache 2005
Rock nd Roll TJ
Here is my usual video and download link combo:

Thanks for stopping by Old Historical Notes. Join us next Saturday as we approach the end of Sufjan Stevens Illinois album and on Sunday where we will look at and add a set of Mexico related music. Join us won't you?

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