Wednesday, September 8, 2010

narco ballads

Ballads Born of Conflict Still Thrive in Colombia
Published: September 4, 2010

“Uriel Henao needs to travel with certain standards,” said the 41-year-old balladeer, referring to himself in the third person, as is his custom. “The people in these parts expect it,” he explained after a convoy of honking pickup trucks and motorcycles led by the town’s fire truck marked his arrival for a concert here in August.

The rock-star welcome for Mr. Henao, who cloaks a gourmand’s paunch under a white leather jacket, was common enough. Colombians call him the king of the corridos prohibidos, or prohibited ballads, a musical genre that describes the exploits of guerrilla commanders, paramilitary warlords, lowly coca growers and cocaine kingpins.

Given the graphic depiction of the drug trade, some established radio stations in Colombia keep the songs off their playlists, sometimes fearful of violent reprisals that might result from glorifying one side or another in the country’s four-decade war. CONTINUE READING

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