Thursday, May 30th, 2013

Gerardo Ortiz – Dámaso

“Gerardo Ortiz escaped unhurt but unfortunately Ramiro Caro wasn’t so lucky.[8]”…


Josh Langhoff: LIFE: In January 2013, the U.S. Treasury Dept. sanctioned and froze the assets of Dámaso López Núñez, “El Licenciado,” a top lieutenant in the Sinaloa Cartel. ART: Even before that, “El Licenciado” was a trope in Sinaloan corrido music, along with its variation “El Lic” and two variants referring to Dámaso Jr., “El Mini Lic” and “El Mini Licenciado,” with which Gerardo Ortíz ends the chorus of “Dámaso.” Translation services say the phrase means “graduate” or “lawyer,” but my awesome librarian Fatima says it implies a specific sort of power; in Ortíz’s words, Dámaso stands up for his gente and wears a pistola should anyone mess with him. Very coy. (The Facebook fan page for Dámaso López “El Mini Lic” lists his occupation as “Business Person.”) LIFE: Ortíz is a rising musical big shot who’s spent the past four years writing corridos and ballads for himself and other Sinaloan hat acts. In 2011, he narrowly escaped a shooting in which two of his companions died. ART: On Billboard‘s Hot Latin Songs chart, corrido singers usually hit with ballads, but “Dámaso” is Ortíz’s first top five hit that’s not romantic chart bait. It’s spectacular. Antiphonal brass warring across your ears, syncopated fills twining around Ortíz’s voice like carnivorous tendrils, and underneath all that activity a slow flow of chords that could outline a gorgeous ballad. ???: Knowing Ortíz’s history, watching him increasingly dominate his genre, hearing him embody this infamous public figure, seeing his publicity pix with guns, ammo, vests, and spiky shoulderpads — it all adds up to what Christgau, reviewing Eminem, once called “that funny feeling in [fans’] stomachs.” It’d be perverse for me, an outsider, to glorify the violence permeating Sinaloan music or to overstate its repulsiveness; but by strength of his persona, Ortíz has both ends covered.

Anthony Easton: The horn flourish at the beginning and the horn flourish at the end loop together in interesting ways, providing a frame for the work in the middle. It’s a tight and sophisticated way of musical storytelling. I also love how narcocorridos localize, extend, and estrange West Texas polkas for their own means. 

Iain Mew: The best way I can think to describe the brass in this is to use a Brad Nelson comment on the synths in a different song a couple of years ago: “makes me think of the word ‘onslaught’ but it’s so goddamn pleasant”. When it comes even thicker and faster at the end it’s total joy.

Alfred Soto: Horns, tricky rhythm changes, and a pleasant voice — a closet full to bursting with mismatched furniture, but narcocorrido is a sound I’m still learning.

Daisy Le Merrer: Everyone’s racing to play as fast as he can behind Gerardo Ortiz, but his delivery remains steady. The effect is that of a guy who’s full of rage, ready to explode at any moment, but not until he decides to. He still calls you “señor”, but he’ll be just as happy to kick your teeth out if you don’t give him the respect he sings about.

Daniel Montesinos-Donaghy: An intense narcocorrido celebration of carrying heat and walking past strawberries by someone who’s cocky enough to think he can sing. Hypnotic for all its goofed-up energy — someone give that snare drummer a publishing share.

Brad Shoup: It’s the second track on his album, but as a fine example of narcocorrido floss-and-stroll, it could’ve been slotted last. I guess that’s not how things play out in the real world. “Dámaso” is punchy and breathless, with Ortiz surveying how the trade has trickled down magnificently for his loved ones. I can’t tell if it’s a nose flute or an organ supporting the horn theme, but I love the timbre. Ortiz doesn’t pack the country roughness of a Goyo Gastelum, but I’m on record flipping for this kind of packed brass.

Reader average: [8.37] (8 votes)

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