June 4, 2004

What About Chicanos?

A new Latino music explosion, this time in Spanglish

By Lizette Escobedo

Hey, have you ever seen those beer commercials directed at Latino audiences? They seem so inclusive, right?

Yes, we Latino are salsa dancing in a hot club in Miami beach, with sexy women all around... Wrong!!

I wonder if the mass media ever thought about “we” Latinos, you know... Chica-nos!! Yeah, we like to dance salsa... but we much rather “destramparnos” with Banda El Recodo and groove to some Hip Hop jams. I guess we Chicanos are Latino, but a different kind of Latino.

Chicano culture, music, and arts have in many instances been merged or fused into a Latino-JLo-Ricky Martin-Pop-Culture, which we have little or nothing in common with. We enjoy this pop culture, as we would enjoy any other thing that is popular. But what about us Chicanos, where did we stand in the mainstream popular culture? Is it maybe that we were not a targeted audience because our Chicano stereotypes haunt the music/ media industry?

Thanks to the growing population of Chicano intellectuals, and the increasing Chicano middle class, Chicano stereotypes are becoming day-by-day more and more mythic. Finally, Chicanos are letting it be known that we have a voice and we want to claim not physical space but rather cultural space.

The thirst to claim cultural space by Chicanos is being quenched in a sense by a new rising movement within the music industry, one which Chicanos can closely identify with because this new music and entertainment speaks to us, and it speaks to us in “Spanglish.”

Just to name a few of many artist gaining popularity among Chicanos is Akwid (pictured). Akwid fuses the tradional beats of Banda music, which tie us back to our roots (which make us remember those “carne asadas” in the backyard) with hip-hop urban beats that make us recall those high school days with your friends... when I listen to Akwid, lyrics are an aside, but what truly identifies me as a 20-year old Chicana, born and raised in LA County, is this Banda-Urban fusion, this fusion that links me to Zacatecas (Fathers’ birthplace) - Sinaloa (Mothers’ birthplace) - and L.A, all at once.

Yolanda Perez is another artist that makes this fusion but instead she poses Chicano issues in her songs, incorporating a wide variety of concepts that Chicanos can closely identify with, such as the role of English, Spanish, Spanglish, generational gaps between parents born in Mexico and offspring born and raised in the U.S., etc... these are just to name a few of the rising artist aimed at Chicano audiences.

Day by day I see that the Chicano industry is only growing. Could it be that the mainstream media has began to recognize that Chicanos are a growing audience? I wonder how those beer commercials are going to look now?

When Ricky Martin and Shakira crossed over from the Spanish to the English music scene, they called it the “Latin Explosion.” Now that us Chicanos stay at the border between Spanish and English, and instead express in Spanglish, what do we call it? Well, I call it not a “Latin Explosion” but rather a “Movimiento Chicano” because we haven’t all of a sudden “exploded” into the public eye. We were always here, but the mainstream is finally listening... listening, in Spanglish!

Lizette Escobedo is a 20-year old Chicana, born and raised in L.A. County. Currently pursuing a major in Communications with a minor in Ethnic Studies at UC San Diego. Reprinted from LatinoLA.com

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