Tijuana’s Los Macuanos, pioneers of the Ruidosón sound, are placing you on house arrest at Club Ruidosón (if there were one) with their latest online drop, “El Camotero.”
The thumping track is intelligent, edgy and a succinct commentary on the war on drugs. “El Camotero” capture your audio senses with layers of ominous samples like the camotero’s choo-choos, a gun being loaded and police sirens overlaid with Los Macuanos chanting “Manos arriba, manos arriba, ya viene camotero (Hands up, hands up. Here comes the camotero)”. You’re probably curious as to what a camotero is. Well, keep reading because I caught up with the Tijuana trio who just returned from Mexico City’s Vive Latino mammoth music festival.
Dita Quiñones: For those that don’t know, what is a camotero?
Los Macuanos: A camotero is a street vendor who sells sweet potatoes, a very popular treat in México. The most accurate translation would be a costermonger — a seller of fruits and vegetables. Camoteros typically push-around a cart that contains a pipe that makes a very particular sound that is used to attract customers.
DQ: Is “El Camotero” a metaphor for a political message of something going in Mexico?
LM: “El Camotero” is a reimagining of the pregón, which uses the theme of working-class characters, mostly street vendors. In this case we opted to turn the genre on its head and turn the friendly character of the street vendor into a sort of working-class antihero. It’s a commentary on the toll that ex-president Felipe Calderón’s war on drugs took on the working class. In many ways this is the sound of the war on the poor: very typical of certain right wing policies.
DQ: Congratulations for participating in Vive Latino. Was “El Camotero” received well?
LM: It was pretty OSOM. We performed using a visual show. People got their minds blown with our heavy political imagery and even danced throughout our set. We think “El Camotero” was a hit since people were actually singing along.
DQ: I hear Horta actually sampled a camotero? Did the driver of the camotero trip out?
LM: The first time I [Moisés Horta] remember listening to the sound of el camotero, I was startled by its other-worldly quality. Later, I discovered that it’s a sound that is ingrained in the Mexican collective consciousness and is a common fear for many people. This motivated me to use it later in a track. When I approached the street vendor to record the sound — he was pretty confused as to what I was going to do with it, but was ultimately chill with the idea.
Los Macuanos are currently working on their upcoming release La Derrota, with “El Camotero” as its debut single. And they are currently featured doing their solo dolo thing on the net-label LALALA4e.com compilation WHATEVER FOREVER, where DJ Nombre Apellido is Moisés Horta, Conejito Colvin is Reuben Torres and Mr. VOID is Moisés López.
Download Los Macuanos’ “El Camotero.”