Last year, Erick Rincon of Mexican DJ collective 3BallMTY was putting some finishing touches on an album with sound-savvy friends Sergio Zavala (aka Sheeqo Beat) and Alberto Presenda (DJ Otto). Though the trio knew the unusual music it was creating might catch on, nothing prepared it for what happened next: Its new work, known as "tribal guarachero" after the long, pointy-toed fashion boots worn south of the border, exploded on the scene.
The DJs, all in their late teens and living in Mexico's capital city of Monterrey, were creating beats years ago. But it's tribal guarachero that helped them establish a fresh sound within regional Mexican music. "At first, people were wondering what we were doing musically," Rincon says. "But people are finally understanding."
The new album, "Intentalo" (Try), was released in late December, and the catchy title track quickly became an anthem played at nightclubs, on the radio and even as the score for a Pepsi commercial that aired in California and Texas. The song's fast-paced beats are laced with electronica, cumbia and African rhythms.
3BallMTY's music turned into a signature movement that began taking off after Mexico-based label Latin Power Music signed the DJs. The act received another major boost after signing with Universal Music Latin Entertainment, which helped push 3BallMTY even further with a marketing campaign that included getting airplay on Mexican radio stations everywhere in the United States, from New York to Los Angeles.
"The sound didn't exist [before now]," UMLE president Victor Gonzalez says. "It's different and unique."
"Intentalo" peaked at No. 2 on Billboard's Top Latin Albums chart and has spent 26 weeks on the tally. It has sold more than 65,000 copies, according to Nielsen SoundScan. In addition, the title track has sold 142,000 downloads and spent two weeks at No. 1 on Hot Latin Songs.
While regional Mexican stations initially opened the door, Gonzalez says, the song was also crossing over to other outlets. "Suddenly," he recalls, "we began realizing that the world of regional Mexican music was expanding to the pop side."
The next phase to parlay the trio's success is releasing the album's second single, "Besos al Aire" (Kisses in the Air), which has already become a hit in Mexico. In August, a deluxe CD/DVD version of "Intentalo" that contains two new songs and music videos will be released.
3BallMTY expects that its versatility as a recording act will eventually expand into other genres. The DJs, for example, have already worked on individual projects with such established artists as Paulina Rubio, while another project featuring their music along with tracks from other DJs is due later in the summer.
"The only pressure now really is finding more time in the studio," says Toy Selectah, the veteran DJ/producer who discovered 3BallMTY and mentored the trio. "It means something when guys like Diplo, Skrillex and A-Trak know about 3BallMTY. The sound of these Mexican kids is now on both sides of the border, and it's expanding."