Saturday, June 15, 2024

Mexican singer Peso Pluma’s US television debut sparks controversy

The appearance of a Mexican singer on a popular United States late-night talk show has angered an anti-violence activist who lost nine members of his extended family in a 2019 massacre in Sonora.

Peso Pluma, a 23-year-old Jalisco native who references drugs, cartels and criminal capos in his songs, made his U.S. television debut on “The Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon” last Friday.

The artist, whose real name is Hassan Emilio Kabande Laija, sang “Ella baila sola” (She Dances Alone), a collaboration with the United States-based regional Mexican group Eslábon Armado. Fallon introduced the ballad as “the No. 1 Latin song in the country.”

While fans of Peso Pluma took to social media to express their excitement at seeing the rising Mexican star on The Tonight Show, Bryan LeBaron was critical of his appearance.

“One hundred thousand deaths a year due to addictions in the United States, 100 murders a day in Mexico. Both countries debating [what to do] to combat fentanyl. Meanwhile, Jimmy Fallon’s stellar program features Peso Pluma, performer of songs that celebrate criminal leaders,” LeBaron, a relative of women and children killed in a cartel attack in November 2019, wrote on Twitter.

In a second tweet, he said that while Peso Pluma songs don’t cause violence, “they do help to normalize it.”

Bryan LeBaron
Bryan LeBaron takes a wreath to the scene of the 2019 massacre of his extended family members in Sonora. (Bryan LeBaron/Twitter)

That such music is topping charts should be a “warning sign,” LeBaron continued, adding that “it speaks of a culture of crime” that has “taken root” in society and which is “even considered aspirational.”

“At this time our future and freedom are jeopardized by the dictatorship of fear. People become ghosts, [they] are massacred, women and young people disappear and there are those who compose songs [dedicated] to the heads of this terror for financial gain,” he wrote in a third tweet.

LeBaron asserted that providing opportunities to defend crime is a “moral crime” itself.

“Let’s reflect on what we’re going through and, without excuses, let’s not celebrate violence,” he wrote.

Narcos Mexico Netflix series still
The third season of Netflix’s popular Narcos Mexico series included a role for Puerto Rican rapper and international star Bad Bunny (right). The series has been criticized by AMLO for glorifying violence. (Narcos Netflix/Twitter)

President López Obrador said earlier this year that he would prefer that narcocorridos – songs that glorify the lives of drug traffickers – weren’t performed in public, but stopped short of saying they should be banned. He has also railed against drama series about drug traffickers – such as the Netflix series “Narcos” saying that they amount to “an apology for violence.”

While criticized by some, music and shows that feature narco-culture are undeniably popular.

As of Tuesday afternoon, Peso Pluma’s appearance on The Late Show had been watched on YouTube some 2.4 million times, while one of his hits – PRC – has 53 million views on the same platform. PRC is short for polvo, ruedas and cristal, slang words for cocaine, MDMA and methamphetamine, respectively.

MTV Latin America celebrated Peso Pluma’s appearance on U.S. television, noting that he was the first regional Mexican artist to feature on Fallon’s show.

One Twitter user said that seeing Peso Pluma on The Tonight Show made her cry.

“Never in a million years did I ever think regional Mexican music would be on American television. What a time to be alive,” she wrote.

With reports from Proceso and Remezcla 

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