Los Tigres del Norte

Jaula de Oro

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Los Tigres del Norte made their name with 1972's "Contrabando y Traición," a song that essentially launched the narcocorrido genre. However, the band's appropriation of the corrido as a vehicle for contemporary tales of drug smuggling is only one of their pioneering contributions to norteño music; another important dimension of Los Tigres' work is their portrayal of the immigrant experience. Jaula de Oro (1984) features two of their most memorable treatments of that topic. The working-class Mexican immigrant's ambivalent relationship with the U.S. -- lured north by the promise of economic progress, nostalgic for Mexico, and yet not belonging fully to either culture -- is part of Los Tigres' own story; in 1968, the barely teenage bandmembers left Sinaloa for California, later settling in San Jose. This album's centerpiece is the title track, which deals with the experience of undocumented immigrants and the irony of life in "the golden cage": the protagonist enjoys the material trappings of U.S. life but is afraid to leave his house lest he be deported; he wants to return to Mexico, but his children reject that heritage. "Pedro y Pablo" tells of the immigrant who, having gone north to fund his brother's education, comes back to discover his sibling has married the fiancée he left behind. Although Los Tigres display a sense of irony when addressing serious issues, elsewhere on Jaula de Oro their intentions are purely comic, as the playful Don Juan tale "El Agente del Amor" shows. Romance falls victim to betrayal on bittersweet ballads like "Que Te Hizo Olvidarme" and to death on "Por Qué Me Quité del Vicio," a dramatic adaptation of Carlos Rivas Larrauri's poem about an alcoholic widower. From socially aware songs to universal stories of unhappy love, Jaula de Oro captures the multi-faceted appeal of Los Tigres del Norte.

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