Contrary to popular (read: Americanized) belief, Mexican music is more than just mariachis. Though we do love a good drunken sing-along to “Cielito Lindo,” Mexico is also home to myriad other musical styles. From folk to banda to rock and pop and, yes, even ska, Mexico’s music is as diverse as its people, and the musicians who seem to best embody the essence of their homeland are the ones who offer a new take on these styles.
One of the best examples of this is the much-loved Café Tacuba. After 20 years together, the band has utilized almost every musical style imaginable. Though usually filed under rock en español, Café Tacuba is so much more than that. In their long career trajectory, they’ve incorporated everything from punk to electro to folk and hip -hop, with perhaps their most well-known achievment of musical fusion being the norteño-heavy “Ingrata,” a song guaranteed to rouse even the dullest of crowds. The band’s success comes not just from the inexhaustible and infectious energy of their live performances, but also from the fact that they, no matter what style they may be experimenting with at the moment, don’t forget their roots in traditional Mexican music. And, while the band is still going strong, it’s time for a new wave of musical innovators.
Enter María y José. A whirlwind of driving percussion and dizzying loops transports you to a world of loud colors, brash noises and sticky heat—a world as intriguing as it is intimidating. This world is the modern-day Tijuana of Antonio Jimenez, better known as María y José, a progressive based in the sprawling Baja California bordertown. In the recent saturation of neo-cumbia, tribal guarachero and tropicalia (and every other hybrid of traditional and electronic music) in which every young DJ/producer is touted as the next big thing, María y José is the real deal. No other musician in Mexico is representing their city (or country for that matter) as honestly and captivatingly as he is.
The former member of Unsexxy Nerd Ponies has become a legitimate musical revelation as a solo artist. Just this year, he has released a full-length album, Espíritu Invisible, and an EP titled Kibosé, both mind-blowing in their own right. His latest track, packed with intoxicating beats, is a self-described work of mamboviolentera. It comments on and captures the state of violence in Mexico in a way that is aggressive and audacious. It’s an all-out assault on the senses that, thanks to María y José’s sly vocals, still retains a back pocket, sort of tongue-in-cheek humor. It is real Tijuana—real Mexico.
Download María y José’s “Violentao” below fo’ FREE.