Ask José Guajardo, lead singer of Los Amos de Nuevo León, to explain "El Hyphy" as it applies to regional Mexican music, and he will politely but firmly refer you to the lyrics of his group
Ask José Guajardo, lead singer of Los Amos de Nuevo León, to explain "El Hyphy" as it applies to regional Mexican music, and he will politely but firmly refer you to the lyrics of his group's hit song of the same name:
"The women of the San Francisco Bay and San Jose and Oakland/are bringing a new movement they call hyphy, they hear it and they go crazy/the hyphy's so popular that they're dancing it in Sacramento, Stockton and Fresno/I bring fever to everyone in California, it's the movement that's hitting."
"Everyone's going crazy listening to fast corridos/they shake up beers, everyone gets wet, they don't care when they're dancing/head and shoulders up and down, dancing the hyphy/jumping up and down like crazy."
If that doesn't make it clear, think of the Bay Area hyphy rap movement, with its dancers bouncing up and down. Around Los Amos' northern California base of Modesto, "People started to hear us play and they compared the adrenaline to American hip-hop," says Guajardo.
That may seem like a jarring comparison, given that Los Amos play accordion-driven norteño. But what sets "El Hyphy" apart from other corridos, or narrative songs, is its speed and its danceable beat. Watch the video to "El Hyphy," and you'll find people jumping in groups or alone, with women swinging their heads and whipping their hair around, headbanger-style.
That's a far cry from the usual partnered dancing that goes along with regional Mexican music. "In this movement, you dance by yourself. It doesn't matter if you don't bring a partner," says Guajardo, who co-writes Los Amos' music with his brother Esteban. And the habit of dousing one's friends (and fans) in beer? "When we play shows, I tell people, 'come throw off all your stress from Monday through Friday,'" says Guajardo. "Everything people do in front of us, we do the same thing on stage."
Los Amos released some albums on Universal Latino earlier this decade, and then went indie on Eagle Music. Their latest album was released July 25 on Solo Records, another indie label that the band is now partners in, along with producer Juan Ramirez.
"El Hyphy," which was at No. 33 on Billboard's regional Mexican airplay chart as of press time, is one of a handful of radio-friendly tracks on the group's album of the same name. Other songs are closer to the raciness of Los Amos' "Desmadre En El Baño," a song that came out last year, about getting high in a nightclub with friends and girls.
"When you go into a bathroom at those, it smells like weed. People are using drugs, they are doing lines on top of the toilet, a lot of things that aren't allowed, but that are real things people are living," says Guajardo.
"So when Los Amos sing about those real things, people say, 'those cabrones are singing the truth.'"
The group has been bringing its gritty party to shows all over the West and Midwest this summer, and is scheduled to play regional Mexican radio festivals for Chicago's La Ley and Milwaukee's La Gran D this month.