Silverio and Nuevos Ricos: Yepa Yepa Yepa, its the Dance of the Devil Lit up!

Who is His Majesty? … the one who gets naked on stage and spits at the audience. And why should we care about this vagrant? He is referred to as a drunk, elegant dandy, womanizer and an icon… but who is he? And – more importantly – who supports his music?

He comes from Chilpancingo, Guerrero in Mexico according to Bernice Balboa and his music has spread to Spain, Germany and England. The genre of this controversial character is electronic “era of the caves, a computer music made with a little subtle and quite gross,” says the character in an interview tva.com.mx. His lyrics evoke “tantric sex mystic exactly” according to the same interview. He does not care though, he says. He is an egotistical musician who does not mind that a lot of people don’t accept him, he likes when people are offended and thinks it is one of the great pleasures we enjoy in life: to offend people. He says he likes to receive insults “with love and devotion,” perhaps signifying that he is a very free-minded individual or perhaps that he is just a little bit wild.

His DJ name is Silverio, most famously known by his hit Yepa-Yepa-Yepa (he’s not that bullfighter guy you may get by googling the name). We care about him because of his affiliation with the relatively new label Nuevos Ricos (“new rich”) since their start in 2003. The name Nuevos Ricos comes from composer Julian Lede and artist Carlos Amorales wanting to change their social and economic situation in Mexico City by creating an aspiring cult label project. Their motto “Income doesn’t mean happiness but who wants to be happy?” plays on their ironic wish to become rich and famous while still responding against the current state of the art world where the rich and famous get richer and more famous. Julian and Carlos say that people in the US wouldn’t understand their name because “we” are a part of the noveau riche ourselves (“In Gold We Trust” they say).They work with highly electric sounds- cumbia electronics, neo-romantic rock, disco punk and noisist avant garde to name a few of their subversive sounding protest art called musical expression.

Silverio comes into play when the label declared that they were concerned with the audience being able to brake loose and become a part of the performance. Much like pop artist Ed Kienholz whose works of art both invited and implicated the viewer, Nuevos Ricos artists are questioning and celebrating the audience at the same time. Silverio gets away with his spitting and nakedness because Nuevos Ricos thinks of performance space as a raw place of transformance during concerts. They put the stage at the same level as the dance floor to make artist and audience on the same level quite literally. This engagement with the audience is a new idea that has arisen out of movements such as the Egyptian revolution a year ago – where normal people with good voices or musical proclivities became huge stars with their revolutionary songs just by the mere fact of playing in front of an audience of their peers. The importance of Silverio in the context of his producers, Nuevos Ricos is that his music is “blowing up” so to speak and this is furthering their goal to become rich and famous. But can they stay that way? Before we discuss that lets look at some of Silverio’s music to see what he is all about

Let’s take a look at some of his work to see what the heck it is all about.

1. El Iluminado (The Illiminated, or Lit)

http://www.myspace.com/nuevosricos/videos/video/53819865

How can a guy without pants on get away with a song mainly based on a clapping and drumming rhythm filmed in front of pornographic images of women? Free speech baby. At one point, he unzips his pants to reveal a golden light – how inappropriate! BY showing sped up images of naked women he may be commenting on the subversive nature of societal depictions of women – that perhaps all women are objectified and can be seen in this pornographic light. Censorship of music has been widely discussed in terms of all DJ artists because of the way that they take songs and appropriate them, and in context of YouTube “ruining” the music industry by posting free music online. This will be discussed more later. To put the song in context, it is a Latin single released in 2009. Latin music, according to “onlylyrics.com” includes the following genres: Latin Music, Spanish, Latin Pop, Reggaeton, Salsa, Bachata, Merengue, Caribbean, Tropical, Cumbia, Flamenco, Grupero, Regional Mexican, Rock En Espanol, Tejano. His music seems to come more from a rock, head banger tradition though in my opinion. On YouTube it is called electro punk and the video inspires a rave-y mosphit of people. I chose this piece because of it showing the stage on the ground, the rave inspiring nature of the music and the way in which the video could be censored.

2. Yepa Yepa Yepa (nonsensical)

I chose this video because it again shows him interacting with audience, to the point of a crowd of girls surrounding him and touching him. He also plays up his usual sexual connotations by grabbing his crotch for a few seconds in the youtube video. Its sound is calmer than El Iliminado in that its beat is steady, despite a few piercing screams throughout. In the second video, below, he is again interacting with the crowd in that he is not up on a platform. Nuevos Ricos seeks to be the anti-noveau riche while still becoming rich and famous and one of the ways that they do that is by placing their artists on the same level as the audience – to physically and metaphorically put them on the same plain. Also, the use of the word Yepa comments on Silverio’s name because Silverio Peréz, a Puerto Rican show host among other different careers (according to Wikipedia), said it on live TV. Silverio shows this clip in his video as well. Yepa is a nonsense word that probably means Yeah! Lets go! In the sense that we use it in the United States

http://musicatono.com/viendo/yam2wOaNjC0

3. El Baile del Diablo (The dance of the devil)

This song is what plays when you open up Nuevos Ricos’ website. I picked it because of the strange sounds throughout and the fact that it was so highly promoted by Nuevos Ricos. It is strangely hypnotic in its repetition, and just when you get exhausted of the repetition an ultrasound-type sound comes on and then a low growly sound appears. The whole time, a sort of Batman-esque soundtrack plays underneath. I am not sure how the title relates to these sonic observations but it seems quite tame for something called the dance of the devil – one would imagine something much more violent than what is heard (in my mind). I am not sure of the historical context, but again, its importance is in that it is played when you open up Nuevos Ricos so they obviously want it to become a hit – and think it has the potential to get them rich and famous.

But are Silverio’s performances just plain trash? That calls up the question of what is art, what is music and what is acceptable. The famous “GG Allin” has a few words to say on that. His first point, though, is about the same “rich and famous” culture that Nuevos RIcos both embraces and abhors- he says he wants to declare war on record companies. Though Nuevos Ricos does not want to overthrow the system per say, they do want to come up with a new way of being rich and famous without adhering to the same old fat cat story. Nuevos Ricos supports Silverio’s performances and even encourages them. Yet, they are censored some of the time according to an earlier mentioned Mexican interview. There must be some reasoning behind that, because despite their cries that they are not the same as every other recording company, they still do say they want to become rich and famous. This brings us to the point of performance art.

Where is the line between performance art, DJing and a rave? What is acceptable and what should be policed and squashed down by “the man”? One arcile by Tobias van Veen says that its not dancing, its bodily expression. I believe that Silverio is participating in bodily expression too because of the way in which he dances – it is a particular style almost similar to aerobics where he modulates his body in a very specific pattern to the beat of his songs. Or he just jumps around and thrusts his pelvis, depending on how drunk he is at his performances according to the videos I watched. Van Veen insists that the rave culture has been associated with rebellious pop culture, but could the reverse be true too? Is Silverios rebellious nature such that it inspires a rave aesthetic to his crowds? From the videos it seems that this is such but Nuevos Ricos does not explicitly say that they condone this performance art-as-rave phenomenon. Would you call Silverio’s performances art? I wouldn’t as I think that art has to have some aesthetic purpose and his eff-you personality does not condone such a pointed statement about anything at all. But then again he does do the same thing every time- stripping down from an old-man suit (probably referencing Silverio Peréz, his supposed namesake and broadcasting star) into a red speedo and doing silly things like bulging out his paunchy stomach, spitting on the crowd, standing on the DJ table and other sexual acts as well.

Nuevos Ricos also do not explicitly outline what they believe to be “okay” to listen to and this is crucial to Silverio because of the explicit nature of his videos and his performances. When is it okay to censor music? To protect women’s rights and children’s ears from hearing profanity? If that were the case, the entire rap industry would crumble in seconds. TV channels refuse to show “Yepa Yepa Yepa,” according to guagamoleproject.com. Since I do not know the English translation of the lyrics, I cannot say why this is the case but it seems to be because of womanizing, sexual words since that is a vein that runs strongly through all of his performances. Along with a description that fits the earlier citations of Silverio as a “drunk, stylish, womanizing champion of the dance floor” there are many explicit pictures, shown above. Nuevos Ricos does not apparently care that his work is so explicit because they support him financially and promote his music. Perhaps they, too, are making a statement about what they believe art is by promoting him. Maybe they think that his style is groovy, maybe they think it is revolutionary but either way their promotion of him standing within the crowd on the same level instead of above them and protected by bodyguards is revolutionary.

TO THE POINT: Can Nuevos Ricos stay the way they want while being catapulted into stardom? From the looks of it, they can. Their artists have performed at Sonar, a very popular and highly mainstream electro music festival (well at least now its mainstream because I’ve been and I am definitely not the kind of person who finds underground things). And yet they still stick to their message of wanting to be against “the man” and all of the things that Hollywood music producers stand for in their “In Gold We Trust” statement (mentioned above). I have faith in Nuevos Ricos and believe that they can achieve their goals because of the artists that they support – they don’t support pop-y, going-to-be-a-hit artists they support off the beaten path weird artists who do things like strip and spit. For this reason I believe they can stick to at least some sort of non-mainstream type of production and not get woo’d into the kind of production like DJ Diplo was saying he got woo’d into with his collaboration with Beyonce.

The Power of Sound

I had never thought about sonic warfare before these readings. I mean it, I really had no idea that there was a category of sounds that have been used throughout history to promote warfare. Something that the Goodman book forgot to talk about was the historical use of war cries, battle drums and rallying military speeches throughout early history to promote sonic warfare. Noise as threatening music is a new concept to me, though I have heard of some (I believe) Chinese interrogation attacks using high pitched noises to crack people (and this was used in French prisons according to a mostly factual movie I watched whose name I forget). But where I am confused is the boundaries of the term “sonic warfare.” It seems to encapsulate all of these issues- war cries, hitlers loudspeakers, jihadist cassets, noise pollution and more, but how does that all culimate in warfare? Is it that all of these things contribute to warfare or is one type predominante?

The Cusick article would say that things such as noise pollution and terrorizing enemies with certain sounds is sonic warfare – speaking to the torture mentioned earlier.

But I believe that the term encapsulates all of the things that the Goodman book was discussing, as a term can be fluid and define a category instead of one specific thing. I am glad to have read about these issues as I really hadn’t considered the effects of sonic warfare until now. It is scary to think about every public speaker in a town or city blaring rebel radio blasts, such as in Rawanda (I learned that from the Hotel Rawanda movie), influencing and terrifying groups into action. The power of sound goes far beyond political statements such as those we saw in Egypt, it can cause an all-out war…. terrifying, no?!

Who run the world? DJ’s???

 http://www.okayplayer.com/news/okayafrica-exclusive-diplo-chief-boima-debate-the-politics-of-tropical-bass.html

(yummmmmm pizza… sup DJs Diplo and Chief Boima)

“Its essence is appropriation” says Boima Tucker. So how can you accuse a DJ of being more popular than another? There is a sense that its the DJ’s fault for being in the top 100. Yeah they have more money, but does that mean they have more access to venues? Can you buy fame? To some extent you can because you can have a bigger public relations committee and you can get your name “out there” more but truly if your music is good then your music is good and there’s nothing stopping a DJ from becoming famous (even if she/he doesn’t want to like DJ Venus X). By approporating songs, all DJs are kind of on the same level- they don’t really have more access to songs than others if they use limewire or (other free music sites that are more legal) so the capitalist property that Boima discusses is sort of a moot point. When you take into account what DJing is and comes from you can see a democracy and only when you get into the specifics of what their motives is where you see popularity- like the guys in Egypt who suddenly became sensations once they included political statements- they didn’t intentionally put themselves out there they just became popular. There is a sense of spontaneity in DJing and its stardom.

Boima speaks of a “right place right time” phenomenon where artists sought him out after word got out that a United States DJ was exploring. The US is seen as pure moneybags to some, and as an opportunity to rise up out of poverty for others- like we saw with the Journey musician earlier on in class. He also says that globalization has made artists return to pop-y cheap thrill types of music, which upsets him. In order to counteract this, he hopes to get non-profit DJ sponsorships up and running in order to create a more just environment. But again, I rest my case that if a DJ is good, and enough people spread the word about him or her, they will become popular.

DJ Diplo has a similar agenda with his Australian non-profit organization. But the main rhetoric in the conversation between him and Chief Boima is about rights and writing about each others music. I don’t really understand why this is an issue. DJ’s “steal” from other artists. DJ’s shouldn’t feel offended when other artists “steal” ideas/thoughts about their music. I just don’t understand why there is so much aggression in the DJing community about music if their whole purpose is to get music out into a community that is good solid work. If their purpose was to compete then wouldn’t they use original stuff and avoid the problem of sounding similar?

They work with popular artists so what’s their beef with the artists sounding pop-y, especially if they use clips of their music?

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=VBmMU_iwe6U

FELD

(sorry i did tuesdays post for today! my bad, heres todays post)

The transition of music from its original context into something “dubbed” or rather appropriated is discussed in Felds article. The geneology of sounds is completely disrespected- much like taking pictures at the Dartmouth Pow Wow would go against spiritual beliefs of the people. By this I mean that the original intent of the music or performance is ignored or disrespected by a Western person/group. But the people who made the music in the beginning didn’t have the resources to contest the copy-write issues or maybe didn’t even know about the asymmetry of power that existed outside the Solomon Islands. Sacredness is ignored, as culture becomes generalized and sounds become “forced grooves” according to Feld. Sacredity if that is a word doesn’t necessarily have to refer to rituals or religiosity but rather the essence of something- something powerful and unique that is unsullied.

There are asymmetries of power that exist. As I said before- the people who originally made the lullaby didn’t know or didn’t have the power to change are placed at a lower ranking- they don’t get the royalties from their music and they don’t have the popularity that the other group does. There is a relationship between people, institutions and states that pervades his article in terms of a disjunctive and inequality between the way in which they interact.

Xenowhat?

“Infinite choice + infinitesimal cost = nomadic eclecticism as the default mode for today’s music fan.”

I completely agree with this statement- and would go even farther to describe the way that people can do voiceovers on their cats singing a musical number from Cats the musical or whatever they want and it can be called music.

“Xenomania and retromania are both forms of exoticism. The difference is that xenomania is about geographical remoteness, whereas retromania is about distance in time” Okay, what? First what does xenomania mean? Well Samantha says that it is a play on xenophobia and xenophilia but what does the intersection imply? Is she trying to say that there is a craziness implicit in Western fears of other cultures and their love of cool new music? Not sure. At all. The clarification that it is about geographical remoteness doesn’t take into account the words definition as fear of outsiders. Next, retromania: is she explaining the metaphysical concept that all things have happened in the past or in the future but never in the present because of the way in which people think about themselves and life? I don’t think so. I think she is probably commenting on retro music- or rather “musical pasts” of nonwestern countries. She does say that it is about distance in time but how much distance and what kind of music is she referring to? Thirdly- exoticism. This one is easier for me to digest. These two made up terms are exotic and implicitly convey some sort of “difference” not between each other but within the word.

I know this is a very in depth analysis of one sentence but it seems to be the basis of her whole argument so I wanted to try to grapple with it and seem to have failed but hopefully have helped somebody in some way deal with the words if they were having difficulties like I am with these terms.

Habitus

Appadurai’s sense of imagination is that it is compiled from the different scapes and through globalization. While Larkin does not disagree with this, and in fact provides examples (below) of how this is a helpful way to understand imagination and culture, his idea is a “parallel” one not an intersected one. Appadurai “provides a theoretical way to understand the complicated identifications of audiences and cultural forms that cross expected racial, cultural and national lines,” according to Larkin and our reading, but Larkin wishes to delineate a different kind of interaction where the universes are not totally enmeshed and cultural lines are not totally blurred but where there are distinctions and authenticity.

He provides examples of Appadurai’s enmeshment statement though which makes me think of habitus- what we grow up knowing and how this course has made me explore what I never knew other people grew up knowing. For example, a Hausa film may include ideas about whether to marry the “right” or appropriate man or the man a woman truly loves- a very western idea of freedom to choose versus a very eastern idea of a family structure. But while we grew up with the Disney princesses all finding true love regardless of who the man was, the Hausa people might choose a different cultural ending- it is unclear from the reading whether they will or not. Regardless, habitus and its delineation is explored in this reading by the way in which Larkin describes a parallel universe in contrast to Appadurai’s definition of the world.

Systems

How does music get transmitted from a garage in Berkeley to the streets of Calcutta? Maybe it travelled along because someone gave out ipods at their wedding in India, or because a CD was forgotten in a hotel room or because a person in Calcutta actively combs Bay Area music blogs. The point is that there seems to be too many ways for music to be transmitted for there to be a systemic transmission. One could say that ethnoscapes covers all of these examples, but that just dampens the spontaneity of transmission into an academic term that basically defines diaspora with bigger words.

Slobin sees no hidden agency which controls the cultural capital of the world and Erhlman does see a systemic transportation. In my opinion, academics can write back and forth to each other all they want about whether or not music is transmitted across a system, but what is lacking is the core of that system: people. People are what transmit sound, through technology, through capitalizm, through chance, through all things that are described in Appadurai’s scapes but my qualm with their use of them is that they forget that serendipity of a Bay Area rapper randomly being hired to perform at a Bollywood-esque sweet sixteenth birthday party in India. Where did all the serendipity go?! It got lost in the big words and the academic arguments but I will say that both are on the right track with their thinking and with their use of -scapes.