Stories behind the music

On the cover of his CD, Jesse Morales is dressed in typical gangster-style clothing — massive gold jewelry and baggy shirt and pants. However, the music Morales’ creates is a mixture of Spanish polka and waltz style. This is typical of Narcocorrido style music.

Former Grammy award winning musician Elijah Wald said Mexican music is often misrepresented by appearance and musical styles. During a lecture Thursday night in the Phyllis P. Marshall Center, Wald said Narcocorrido is a music styles often overlooked.

Narcocorrido is a story-telling style of music about drug trafficking that is becoming one of the most popular Latino music styles.

Although the Mexican Narcocorrido music can be compared to gangster rap, Wald said it is still more “intensely traditional.”

“Mexicans aren’t respected in academy or literature in general,” said Elijah Wald, former music writer for The Boston Globe. Wald has also traveled around the world and interviewed musicians and natives about their musical preferences and culture, focusing on the Latin American communities.

Wald said he was not an expert on the subject, but he found his interviews were enough to write a book about the Mexican Narcocorridos.

Wald said his book, Narcocorrido: A Journey into the Music of Drugs, Guns, and Guerillas, differs from the other Narcocorrido books because he tells a comprised story from personal interviews, whereas the other books are told by scholars who independently study the music through books and CDs.

“Academics and scholars do not care about what the people writing music think about (the music),” Wald said.

Not only does Wald say Mexican music is viewed by solely English speaking people, but the misrepresentation also reaches to the award levels.

He added that not enough attention is given to the actual Latin success. For example, Mexican music is often misidentified as salsa and merengue, which is not Mexican music at all. However, Wald said 70 percent of all the Latino American music sales consist of Mexican Regional music such as corridos.

“Mexico is the only place in the modern world with routine ballads of current news,” Wald said.