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Cumbia villera

Cumbia villera is a typically Argentine form of cumbia music born in the villas miseria (shantytowns) around Buenos Aires and then popularized in other large urban settlements.


Ever since the 1930s there has been a strong migration from the provinces to the Greater Buenos Aires area, with migrants bringing along their dance styles. The musical mix and the dynamics sounds of big-city life eventually gave birth to new styles. Notably, chamame from Corrientes was cross-pollinated with Brazilian and Andean maybe from peru. because they usually do kind of music aparently from the poor people rhythms and cuartetazo from Cordoba. During the 1970s and 1980s, tropical was used as a catch-all term for this hybrid.

Partly due to the popularity of Peruvian and Bolivian cumbia bands, the focus of tropical shifted towards cumbia just as middle-class portenos started attending upscale bailantas (tropical dance parties) in the late 1980s.

In the 1990s, commercial interests started promoting local cumbia numbers such as Amar Azul and Rafaga with an emphasis on attracting wider audiences. Many traditional cumbia lovers started to search for more "authentic" numbers. Some bands obliged by setting on a square cumbia beat, and writing lyrics that delved ever deeper into themes of crime and drug abuse. Foremost among those was Los Pibes Chorros ("The Thieving Kids"). Other bands in this vein are Yerba Brava and Damas Gratis , widely acknowledged as the genre's leading act, that was started by former Amar Azul's keyboardist Pablo Lescano after a serious accident made him reconsider the message he wanted to convey through music.

The pauperization of vast segments of the population due to the economic slowdown that started in 1998 enlarged the social substrate for the genre. The term cumbia villera took hold in the media, and many bands were propelled into fame when emerging football stars from the shantytowns (such as Carlos Tevez) proclaimed their allegiance.

Present outlook

Some radio and TV shows had incorporated cumbia villera into their offerings, notably on weekend omnibus variety shows, where music runs the gamut from folklore to tropical; even though the more provocative lyrics were seldom broadcast.

In recent years, due to pressure from broadcasters and (allegedly) influence from Evangelical preachers active in the shantytowns, some bands have shifted back to love songs instead.

Influences and parallels

Whilst the arrangements of Colombian or Bolivian cumbia can be quite complex (even traditionalists like Pastor Lopez use a full brass section), cumbia villera recordings are often made at the lowest possible expense. As this invariably entails the use of synthesizers, Argentine cumbia can be described, like Algerian rai, as a "low fidelity, high tech" genre.

Other than rai, cumbia villera also has obvious parallels with gangsta rap in the United States, the rhythms of the favelas of Rio de Janeiro, the explosion of punk rock and ska in the UK during the 1970s and 1980s, and the emergence of bad-boy reggae in 1960s Jamaica.

Puerto Rican import reggaeton has made inroads into cumbia villera audiences, partly due to thematic similarities.

For years, Argentine rock and roll has had many working-class heroes (notably Pappo and cult bands like Los Redonditos and Bersuit Vergarabat). This strain of rock is intertwined with cumbia villera in many people's preferences.

External links

Damas Gratis

MuevaMueva Spanish language portal

Backstage (German)

Backstage (French)

Sociological analysis (Spanish)


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This article is licensed under the GNU Free Documentation License. It uses material from the Wikipedia article Cumbia villera

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