Café Tacvba’s highly anticipated forthcoming album is set to drop in just a few months, but ahead of its release, the Mexican band has found itself the subject of a conversation on femicides and their beloved song “La Ingrata,” from the landmark 1994 album Re.
In an interview with Argentine newspaper La Nación from November 2016, vocalist Rubén Albarrán stated, “We were really young when we wrote the song and we weren’t sensitive to [femicides] the way we are now. It’s time for us to reflect if we will keep playing it or change the lyrics…We’re not interested in supporting [femicides.] A lot of people can say that it’s just a song. But songs are culture, and that [kind of] culture can empower some people to attack, hurt, whatever.”
The interview resurfaced when Chilean newspaper El Dínamo reported that the band refused to play the song at the Fiestas de Palmares in Costa Rica last month, in spite of demands from the audience. Today, the band posted the full piece from La Nación with a statement on Facebook. “For us, women are always worthy of respect, love, and care.”
“La Ingrata” is one of Café Tacvba’s biggest hits. It chronicles the story of a man wronged by his “ungrateful” lover; the narrator says he will hurt and humiliate her – even shoot her. It ends with the narrator thinking about reuniting with her at her funeral. The song is a corrido, a style the band adopts not only musically but lyrically as well. A sort of tongue-in-cheek murder ballad, it mimics the norteño style, which often suffers from misogynistic undertones and reflects the machismo of Mexican society.
In the same interview from La Nación, band member Emmanuel del Real (aka Meme) notes, “the song is based on humor. The inspiration for the song is corridos norteños, whose lyrics often narrate stories that don’t have a sense of humor. If that produces an incorrect reading, it goes beyond the intention the song had in its moment.”
Since this is one of the band’s most beloved songs, controversy is sure to follow, especially as femicide continues to plague Mexican society. The National Citizen Femicide Observatory reports that six women are assassinated every day in the country. Only time will tell if the band decides to continue playing the song or not.