Date: Wed, 14 Mar 2001 21:22:00 -0800 
From: catherine yronwode (cat@luckymojo.com) 
Subject: Los Tucanes de Tijuana

LOS TUCANES DE TIJUANA REFERENCE FILE 
Compiled from the Worldwide Web

-----------------------------------

First and foremost, Los Tucanes de Tijuana have their own
web site at http://www.lostucanes.com

The site contains a web-forum, images, and general fan
information but no lyrics. A few people post in English, but
most of the content is in Spanish. You can get a
machine-translated version of the page through google.com --
just go to google, search on "Los Tucanes de Tijanua," and
it ought to be the top page of the pile. Click on the
"translate this page" option and much of the material will
load in English ... of a sort.

-----------------------------------

From US News and World Report, November 1997:

Songs of Modern Heroes

"I don't work for anyone. I take care of my own business. My
customers are sure things. Everything is fabulous. The
little Colombian rock is making me famous." So goes one cut
from a CD that recently climbed the Billboard Latin charts.
The song, a celebration of cocaine smuggling, is the work of
Los Tucanes de Tijuana, a norteno group from Mexico. In the
last couple of years, the band's odes to drug traffickers
have made it hugely popular both in Mexico and in immigrant
communities throughout the United States. According to EMI
Latin, a division of record giant EMI, all six of the most
recent Los Tucanes CDs have gone platinum and they are the
only artists other than Selena to have six albums on the
Billboard charts at once.

Los Tucanes, the most popular of Mexico's "narco
balladeers," sing corridos -- polka-influenced songs.
Popular since the late 19th century, corridos have
functioned as folk news wires, recounting feats of
revolutionary heros like Pancho Villa. They have endured as
a staple of Mexican music. But it wasn't until trafficking
routes shifted from the Florida Keys to Mexico in the 1980s
that drug lords became a popular theme.

The Mexican government has asked radio stations not to play
narco corridos. And some Spanish-language American stations
voluntarily refrain. But the popularity of Los Tucanes and
other narco balladeers continues to grow.

--Elise Ackerman

--------------------------

From brownpride.com (a Latino cultural site):

In old Mexico, corridos were used to tell stories from one
generation to the next. While most corridos told stories of
historic events, making revolutionaries like Emilio Zapata
and Pancho Villa into larger than life figures. In Los
Angeles an undocumented migrant named Rosalino "Chalino"
Sanchez changed corridos forever.

Chalino created a whole new genre of Nortena music termed
narcocorridos, which was equivalent to gangster rap. Songs
were based on Mexican cartels, drug smuggling, police
corruption sung to polka beats laced with an accordion line.
Chalino's career was cut short; he was murdered in Culiacan
Sinaloa at the age of 31. His unsolved death added to the
Chalino mystic, soon everyone was bumping Chalino songs out
of their car stereos. The controversy surrounding his death
made Chalino a modern day folk hero. What Tupac was to rap
world, Chalino was to Nortenas.

It was only a matter of time before working-class
Mexican-Americans would rediscover their parentsI folk music
with a modern day gangster twist. Soon, sporting Tony Lama
boots, Stetson cowboy hats (the more x's the better), and
silk shirts became the rage in barrios and vaquero clubs
through out the southwest.

[story goes on to name the best narcocorridos bands, calling
Los Tucanes de Tijuana "classic." Other bands in this vein
are Los Huracanes del Norte, Los Originales de San Juan, and
Los Tigres del Norte.]

-------------------------

According to the official EMI site (in Spanish), the band
members are indeed from Sinaloa, as is evident in the
lyrics, which means they are from the same region as
Rosalino "Chalino" Sanchez.]

--------------------------

An LA Weekly review of some other narcocorridos mentions
that the references to "three animals" in Los Tucanes' first
big hit of the same name can be decoded thus: pot = rooster,
coke = parrot, heroin = goat. Thus, all references to farm
animals in their lyrics are to types of drugs, not to
literal farm animals!

---------------------------

From www.rinconlatino.com/content/es00825048.html

The following article was written in 2000. It was translated
into English with Babelfish, an automatic translation
program. Corrido, a type of polka tune, is translated as
"run ones" because correr means to run, and also as "in
excess ones" for reasons i cannot fathom. Notice that this
Univision article omits all references to drug smuggling
topics in the songs of Los Tucanes!

THE TOUCANS OF TIJUANA

Char it with the Toucans of Tijuana

It knows a little more the kings the Mexican run one [the
Kings of Mexican Corrido]

The colors of the toucan are a joy symbol, and that is what
the Toucans of Tijuana symbolize in their in excess ones
[corridos].

Ironically, they passed very difficult moments when they
emigrated of its Sinaloa birthday with little more than 12
years, towards California.

A LITTLE HISTORY

When they were in the process to look for a name for the
group, the members agreed in an animal of alive colors, that
reflected the joy of its music. The colors of the toucan
were adapted by their vividness. Also they wanted to make
honor to the place that gave shelter them, reason why
finished off the name with Tijuana.

Thus, in 1987 the Toucans were born of Tijuana.

They used the in excess one [corrido], a musical sort that
was born during the Mexican Revolution, to speak of
controversiales events that only appeared in newspapers and
the television.

Histories of contained fort and a very Latin tradition, the
run ones [corridos] of the Toucans of Tijuana always say the
things as they are, but with the intention to send a
positive message to the mentality of their admirers.

Most popular they are My Three Animals, the Pinata, the
Centenary, Platonic Love, and Kidnapping of Love [song
titles].

THEY CROSS THE BORDER WITHOUT OVERHAUL

The Toucans of Tijuana have made tours of presentations by
all the Mexican Republic, the United States, Chile and
Spain.

Between July of 1995 and July of 1997, they sold 5 million
and means of units in Mexico and the United States and have
managed to be one of the Hispanic groups that manage to
place seven of their recordings in the list of 50 more sold
of the Billboard magazine.

The impact of its music took them to the means covers
important like The New York Times, Los Angeles Times and San
Diego Tribune and are, until the moment, the only Mexican
northern group of that has sent itself material in Europe
and all Latin America.

In addition they are first in receiving Disco de Oro in
Chile.

(c) 2000 Univision Inc. Communications 
Miguel Heron Univision Online, Mexico

-------------------------------------

From quepasa.com comes this 1999 mini-interview:

Los Tucanes, the heavyweights of the Norteno music scene are
promoting a new album Al Por Mayor, which has twelve songs,
the most popular of which is "De Tin MarAn". The group has
plans to travel throughout South America. "Last year we were
in Chile, where we were presented with a gold record, and we
are planning to return next year when we tour Central and
South America, and Europe, over in Spain."

During the press conference quepasa.com questioned Mario
Quintero, the band's lead singer. The themes of their folk
songs about narco-trafficking didn't go untouched that night
and the group didn't hesitate in responding with their point
of view regarding the controversial issue:

"Well, I respect those who consume drugs, that is an
individual decision, and we sing folk songs about
narcotrafficking because there is a large market for it and
we take advantage of that large demand for those songs to
provide a positive message in each song, that people
shouldn't get involved in those things because they are
dangerous."

The folk songs are popular among Tucanes fans but, like
Mario confessed that night, they also receive inspiration
from their fans, "in the letters that the girls give me
during the shows, well the girls are beautiful, they tell us
nice compliments, and all of that we also convert into the
lyrics of our songs."

--------------------------------

And finally, a really good 1998 article from the San Diego
Union-Tribune, captured on the NORML newsletter web page, of
all places!

TIJUANA BAND HAS FANS HOOKED ON DRUG-WAR BALLADS

TIJUANA -- Before roughly 35,000 fans, Los Tucanes de
Tijuana stood shimmering in silver-spangled suits and black
hats on a recent Saturday night, belting out one of their
best-known numbers. It told of a pinata for adults, filled
not with candy, but little bags of "something more
expensive": in other words, drugs.

As drug smuggling proliferates on the U.S.-Mexico border,
Los Tucanes de Tijuana join a growing number of norteno
groups using the traditional Mexican ballads, or corridos,
to tell the stories of today's drug traffickers.

Bungled police raids on suspected safehouses, a drug-laden
airplane buried in Baja California Sur, corrupt U.S. and
Mexican anti-drug agents, a farmer who gets away with
growing an illegal crop -- all are topics of recent songs,
known as narcocorridos, by the Tijuana-based group.

"We have an abundance of material," says Mario Quintero, the
four-member group's 27-year-old songwriter and lead singer.
"All you have to do is watch the news or buy a newspaper."

Los Tucanes are certainly not the first to sing about drug
smuggling. Los Tigres del Norte and other bands playing
northern Mexican music have been incorporating the theme
into their repertoire too. But the brash lyrics of Los
Tucanes songs have taken the genre a step further, say
critics worried about the effect on young audiences who
flock to their concerts.

The group hit the headlines last year when a suspect
described by law enforcement authorities as a member of the
Tijuana-based Arellano Felix drug cartel said that his
bosses had subsidized Los Tucanes and other norteno groups.

Los Tucanes shrug off such accusations, conceding they might
have unknowingly performed for members of the Arellano Felix
cartel at a private party, but haven't met them personally.
"We haven't had the pleasure," Quintero says.

"Everybody criticizes them, but they don't take into account
their generosity, their philanthropy," Quintero says of the
powerful drug cartels, said to have built roads and schools
in rural communities and known to have contributed sums to
the Catholic Church. "We respect these people; we admire
them."

Simply attributing Los Tucanes' popularity to their
narcocorridos would be missing the mark. The group's four
latest compact discs have sold more than 2 million copies in
the United States and Mexico, and many of their most-popular
songs are not about drugs, but love and relations between
the sexes. Their current song, number 20 on Billboard's list
of Latin songs, is called "Hacemos Bonita Pareja," "We Make
a Cute Couple."

Still, the surging popularity of drug themes popularized by
groups such as Los Tucanes speaks to their growing
pervasiveness in Mexican culture, says Manuel Valenzuela, a
researcher at the Colegio de la Frontera Norte outside
Tijuana.

"Clearly, the codes of narcoculture are becoming
incorporated into everyday life."

SUCCESS STORY

In some ways, Los Tucanes tell a Tijuana success story. They
are from the town of Guamuchil in the Pacific Coast state of
Sinaloa, in an agricultural valley adjacent to a major
marijuana and poppy-growing region.

The band members are cousins who came to Tijuana like so
many others do -- in search of greater opportunity.
Quintero, a junior high school graduate, worked for a while
in a maquiladora.

Sons and grandsons of musicians, Los Tucanes began playing
together 11 years ago, performing at bars, weddings,
baptisms, and 15th birthday parties, or quinceaqeras. Back
at the beginning, longtime associates say, the group dreamed
of one day warming the crowds for better-known norteno
groups such as Banda El Recodo or Los Temerarios or Los
Huracanes del Norte. Now they're packing their own crowds.

VOICES OF CONCERN

Despite their growing renown, not everyone is applauding.

Across from Texas, in Ciudad Juarez, the state government's
human rights representative, Eustasio Gutiirrez Corona, two
months ago called on authorities to ban narcocorridos by Los
Tucanes and other groups from the airwaves, saying they
encourage crime. But nobody listened, he concedes. "They're
still playing them."

Here on the Tijuana-San Diego border, two popular
Spanish-language music stations under the same ownership,
Radio Latina and X-99, refuse to play narcocorridos.

"Just ask the children who listen to narcocorridos, just ask
them what they want to be when they grow up," says Lorena
Salas, programming director at X-99.

Narcocorridos "represent a reaction against the norms and
laws of society," says Monsignor Salvador Cisneros, who
heads a Catholic parish in Playas de Tijuana. "There is a
segment that looks with curiosity and admiration upon these
men who have evaded justice."

Laced with irony and doubles-entendres, the lyrics played by
Los Tucanes are among the most brazen of the current waves
of corridos. "They represent something that is culturally
legitimate, although it's very frightening," says James
Nicolopulos, a University of Texas professor who has studied
the corrido.

"They're expressing the viewpoint of a marginalized section
of society on both sides of the border, the people who are
going to see drug traffickers as heroes, figures who have
escaped a system designed to keep them down," Nicolopulos
says.

A COLORFUL HISTORY

Corridos have been around since the 1800s, and outlaws have
been a popular subject from the beginning: 19th-century
textile smugglers, liquor smugglers of the 1920s, immigrant
smugglers in the ensuing decades.

Though earliest narcocorridos can be traced back to the
1940s, the current wave dates back to the 1970s, pioneered
by Los Tigres del Norte, a norteno group whose music
continues to command a wide following on both sides of the
border.

But in the earlier songs, Nicolopulos says, "the trafficker
was beating the system, getting out of poverty. The element
that was celebrated was not drugs, but the dangerous
situation in which these people found themselves."

With Los Tucanes, "there seems to be much more focus on
selling and using the drugs. There's more braggadocio, about
'See, I am getting away with it.' There's a whole throwing
down the gauntlet at the ideology of the drug war."

The band members shrink from such analysis, and insist
they're just playing songs about what they see around them.

"We're surrounded by narcoculture," says Quintero. "Our
public wants to play narcocorridos, and we can't strip them
of that pleasure, because we depend on them."

Back in Tijuana this month, Los Tucanes drew a record crowd
to the Terrenazo Caliente for an outdoor performance that
lasted well over two hours.

Against a lavish backdrop that included fake palm trees and
a mechanical waterfall, Los Tucanes pounded out song after
song, Quintero taking center stage with his plaintive twang
and 12-string guitar, or bajo sexto, as Joel Higuera, the
accordionist and second voice, acted the clown as he hopped
to and fro.

"Mario, Mario, Maaaaario," young girls from both sides of
the border shouted, pushing against the barricades, pleading
for a moment of the singer's attention. Farther back,
clusters of youths strutted in elaborate silk shirts,
snakeskin boots and ten-gallon hats.

"Their songs make your blood rise," said Enrique Dmaz, a
21-year-old maquiladora worker, reciting the lyrics of his
favorite Tucanes song, "Manos Verdes": "Me Dedico al Negocio
Prohibido -- I engage in forbidden trade."

Rosemary Quiroz, 16, listened with a cluster of her
girlfriends from Castle Park High School in Chula Vista.
"You get into the music, the beat makes you dance," she
says, then adds: "What people really think about drugs, they
say it in their songs."

Copyright 1998 Union-Tribune Publishing Co.

------------------------------ 

Now all we need are translations of the lyrics -- 
and tickets to one of their shows!

cat