MACUILXOCHITL: Five Flower”, the Aztec god of music and dance
By Francisco Ciriza
Tijuana native Frankie J. has recently released a Spanish version of his latest, self-titled, English-language CD on Sony Discos. With a great artistic divide amongst those artists who make the cross-over from their Native Spanish to English, Frankie J. has done something slightly different. He’s gone from English to Spanish. However, instead of a mere translation of one recording to another, he’s also added four new songs to the all-Spanish record with some help from former Luis Miguel collaborator, Kiko Ciprian, who resides here in San Diego, as well.
When asked about some artist’s hesitation to break the language barrier, in whichever direction approached, Frankie J. answered with enthusiasm and honest confidence that his record, he thought, would be accepted by native Spanish speakers. “I say, ‘believe in yourself’’. You never know until you try.” His approach is less political and more geared toward personal achievement derived from and self-motivation than anything else. “Look at Thalia, “ he said recently from his home in that same south bay in San Diego county.
Frankie J. grew up very heavily submerged in his native Mexican culture but was also very much in tune with what was happening musically in the mainstream young American culture. While obviously his first love were the rhythmic sounds of Latin America, he also found it satisfying listening to Run D.M.C., Kurtis Blow, the Fat Boys, and Michael Jackson. Eventually he was influenced more by the contemporary sounds labeled as R&B from artists like K-Ci and Jo Jo and from true R&B/Soul artists such as Stevie Wonder. His first musical endeavors included much success as the front man for A.B. Quintanilla and the Kumbia Kings. While the Kumbia Kings most recent work has seen more and more mainstream exposure, it was a situation Frankie J. left in order to explore greater horizons.
The true focus of Frankie J.’s solo work seems to be toward breaking all the boundaries based on language and culture. He is working all the traditional Latin markets on his upcoming two month-long tour including the southwestern United States, New York, Miami, Chicago, but he’s also going to heading to Washington state and some other areas abroad such as Colombia and Puerto Rico.
He even has some surprises up his sleeve. The one thing that seemed most intriguing about Frankie J. was his wholesome attitude and straightforwardness. This is a young man excited by his work, propelled by his talent and charisma, and fueled by raw youthful energy. It took everything he had to keep his record companies plans secret. He mentioned over and over how he was not supposed to tell and yet, it was obvious, it might not take much coercion to get it out of him.
But instead of breaking his word that he not let the secret(s) out, Frankie J. kept his composure and assured his fans that they’d love the surprises in store for them. He not only made his record company happy by doing so, but he also proved much of his talk regarding his values and morals, to be true. With his press kit boasting his achievement as the first Mexican-American to have a video in the top 10 of MTV’s TRL (Total Request Live), it is a pleasure to have such a seemingly good guy representing that section of the Latino movement in this country.