Entertainment

Pepe Aguilar Is Spreading Norteña Culture Across The US In Sold Out Venues And We Stan Hard

Pop music is far more complex and deeper than Lady Gaga and Taylor Swift (no offence, ladies). In a multicultural society like the United States, we have to rethink what we consider as mainstream. This term is generally used for artists whose work is consumed by Anglo audiences. Think about it, an African-American rapper “breaks into the mainstream” when white folk start paying attention, right? Otherwise, the artist is just “niche”. That is why we gotta reconsider what “mainstream” means when it comes to Latino artists and shows. 

Which brings us to Pepe Aguilar, perhaps one of the most popular singers in the planet and who is taking Mexico and the United States by storm with his Mexican rodeo extravaganza “Jaripeo Sin Fronteras”. The show brings together charreria, songs and a good doses of good old Mexican pride. 

So who is Pepe Aguilar? (as if you didn’t know, right?) 

Credit: Instagram. @pepeaguilar_oficial

His full name is José Antonio Aguilar Jiménez and he is Mexican-American as it comes. He was born in San Antonio, Texas, while his parents were on tour. He was raised in Zacatecas, where he first became a rock musician and had a band called Equs, which was influenced by the likes of Pink Floyd and The Who! Can you imagine that? Well, one thing led to another and he ended up going back to his Mexican roots and becoming one of the best-selling ranchera acts of all time. 

He is, of course, the son of the late great Tony Aguilar.

Credit: Instagram. @pepeaguilar_oficial

Pepe Aguilar has ranchera en la sangre. He is the son of Antonio Aguilar and Flor Silvestre, two legendary musicians in their own right. Tony Aguilar was also a strong presence in the Mexican film industry. Aguilar senior recorded over 150 albums, which sold over 25 million copies. Can you get more mainstream than that? Well, Pepe is making sure that the family legacy lives on. 

Introducing Jaripeo Sin Fronteras!

Credit: Instagram. @pepeaguilar_oficial

This amazing show has Pepe Aguilar as the lead, but includes acts by his kids Angela (what a voice on this lady!), Leonardo and Antonio Aguilar Jr. Marichis and rodeo acts are also included of course! The show is touring non-stop in 2019 in both sides of the border, bringing a message of unity. Just look at what they did in Mexico City.

Let’s not forget that for the Aguilar family showbiz is like second nature.

Credit: Instagram. @pepeaguilar_oficial

The show just flows like the musical blood that runs through those Aguilar veins. This is Pepe with his brother, perhaps the only Aguilar not deep into showbiz! In an interview for CE Noticias Financieras, Guadalupe Pineda, the famous Mexican singer and Pepe’s cousin, says of him: “Pepe is a great dad, he’s doing the best for every one of his kids. As an aunt, you simply know and feel that we can all be wrong and that the boy is very young and has every right in the world to get ahead”. 

So, of course, the show includes the next generation of Aguilar talent!

Credit: Instagram. @angelicaguilar_mxfan

Angela Aguilar followed the family tradition of being born while on tour. She came into the world in Los Angeles while her mother was accompanying Pepe Aguilar on tour. And you can tell that musical talent is there. Her version of “Shallow” is enough to make anyone cry! And she had Lady Gaga’s blessing, as Angela said in the Mexican TV show Ventaneando: “Suddenly I’m playing the piano trying to practice and concentrate. Lady Gaga said yes, practice, you’re going to sing it. Oh, my God, I’m going to die! I mean, Lady Gaga knows who I am is like. wow!”.

The show includes all sorts of equine acts, and the horses are quite unique.

Credit: Instagram. @pepeaguilar_oficial

Some of the amazing horses in the show are shaved by the amazing Rob Ferrell, a barber who is so dexterous with the blade he is able to imprint a Mexican aguila y serpiente on the equine’s skin. You can look at his work (on human and horse surfaces!) here: https://www.instagram.com/robtheoriginal/  

The show has been a sold-out in localities North and South of the Border.

Credit: Instagram. @pepeaguilar_oficial

Look at the Honda Center in Anaheim: un lleno total, carajo! Pepe Aguilar is a consummate businessman and he knows that every city is slightly different. He explained the concept to Billboard: “It’s basically a modular concept, where you can change the pieces. The fundamental parts are the horse shows and the Mexican traditions. In some cities we’ll have special guests, in others, only the family is going to perform”. There are still some dates available this year: 

September 20 — Atlanta, Georgia @ Infinite Energy Center

September 22 — Chicago, Illinois @ Allstate Arena

September 27 — Tacoma, Washington @Tacoma Dome

Even if you are not a fan of ranchera culture, you have to admit the show is quite spectacular: the whole Aguilar family makes an appearance, look at Leonardo riding that horse.

Credit: YouTube. @STO

Leonardo is the latest success story in “La Dinastía Aguilar”. He has been nominated for two Latin Grammys despite his tender age: only 20 and he is already a great act. He released his first record when he was only 12-years-old, Nueva Tradición, a collaboration with his sister Angela.

And of course Pepe Aguilar has been super amazing with fans, because that is just who he is.

Credit: YouTube / Los Angeles Times

You don’t get to be on top and stay on top without being an approachable and kind celebrity. Pepe Aguilar knows well who pays his wages: the millions of fans that love him and his multi talented family. 

And of course Mexican cities are embracing the show with sold out venues.

Credit: Instagram. @pepeaguilar_oficial

Jaripeo sin Fronteras has had a huge appeal in Mexico, which tells us that being “Mexican” goes beyond national borders. No one cares Pepe Aguilar was born in the United States: we share one identity and one heart. 

So can haters admit Mexican culture is mainstream now?

Credit: YouTube / Los Angeles Times

Jaripeo sin Fronteras has performed in the main arenas of almost every major city in the United States. See what we meant with rethinking what mainstream means?

And yeah, those are some of the most beautiful caballitos we have ever seen.

Credit: YouTube / Los Angeles Times

Just look at those ojitos pispiretos, beautiful beasts. And as Billboard reports, no animals are harmed, so worry not: “Pepe, who rides several of his Andalusian horses in his own equestrian performance, also specifies that no animals are hurt during this tour”. 

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Demi Lovato Gasses Up Her Teen Self In Her Latest Music Video ‘OK Not to Be OK’

Entertainment

Demi Lovato Gasses Up Her Teen Self In Her Latest Music Video ‘OK Not to Be OK’

Pixl Networks

Demi Lovato is hardly a stranger to opening up about the things that have plagued her. The “Sorry Not Sorry” singer has long used her voice and platform to shed light on the issues that so many young girls struggle with. Namely body image. Like many young girls across the country (who are reportedly more likely to suffer from the pressures of our society’s pressure to obtain the “ideal body”) Demi Lovato has been open about her years struggling with eating disorders. Moreover, in recent years Lovato has positioned herself as an advocate for young girls suffering from similar issues.

In a recent music video, Lovato is opening up about her pain by doing so with a girl she can relate to on a completely different level: her younger self.

Lovato’s newest song comes with a heartwrenching and brilliant collab with Marshmello.

In her latest video, Lovato finds herself transported to her childhood bedroom, waking up in her old bed. When she looks in the mirror, she finds herself staring straight into the face of her younger self (a la Camp Rock). Marshmello also wakes up in his own childhood room, and the two artists end up settling with their past demons throughout the rest of the video. 

The lyrics of the song detail the process of coming to terms with dark emotions and mental health struggles. “Don’t get lost in the moment, or give up when you’re closest,” Lovato sings in the new music video. “All you need is somebody to say, it’s OK not to be OK.”

Throughout the video, the teenage and adult versions of Lovato and Marshmellow rage in their bedrooms in the video before ultimately finding a balance. The video concludes with both versions of Demi holding hands and meeting up with the teenage and adult versions of Marshmello while dancing down a street.

“I think it’s just such an important subject,” Marshmello said about the song’s release on World Suicide Prevention Day. “I think a lot of people, about negative feelings and negative thoughts that are affecting them are kind of scared to bring it up, scared to talk about it. When in reality, they’re scared because maybe the person won’t relate or the person won’t understand, when in reality most of time the person that you could bring it up to, will most likely has felt like this or will understand or can relate as well. So I think it’s very important to talk about it.”

Check out the music video below!

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This Brand Is Being Called A ‘Culture Vulture’ After Being Accused Of Gentrifying Latino Cooking

Culture

This Brand Is Being Called A ‘Culture Vulture’ After Being Accused Of Gentrifying Latino Cooking

Granddriver / Getty Images

As a kid growing up in a Latino household, pretty much everyone had a giant molcajete for grinding up spices and making salsas, or a tortilladora for whipping up homemade tacos and quesadillas. And as staple of pretty much any Latina home, they weren’t that expensive either.

Well, one online company has taken all of that and flipped it upside down to try and make a very hefty profit by bringing ‘artisan crafted’ products into people’s homes – helping them experience a ‘cultural journey.’

The store’s outrageous prices for such traditional kitchen items is generating tons of criticism alone from people calling them ‘culture vultures’ and accusing them of gentrifying Latino cooking and cultural appropriation.

Verve Culture is being called a ‘culture vulture’ for taking traditional Latino cooking tools and selling them at insanely high prices.

Credit: MiComidaVegana / YouTube

Verve Culture – an online store dedicated to bringing “you on a cultural journey” – is facing a series of complaints after profiting from traditional cultural products. The company sells typical products in the preparation of three traditional cuisines at very high prices: Mexican, Moroccan, and Thai.

In the case of traditional Mexican products, the company sells orange and lemon juices; accessories for making chocolate, blown glasses, and molcajetes. And at insanely high prices: a molcajete for $60, a tortilla press for $60, a Mexican chocolate set for $80, and a “Mexican hand juicer” for $15.

The company is obviously profiting off of traditional products of a culture that is too often denigrated – or on the other end of the spectrum, fetishized. Brands are no stranger to appropriating traditional cultural items to boost sales but this particular instance seems to have hit a major nerve with shoppers.

Like, for real?! A molcajete for $60 USD?!

Among some of the most outrageous priced items is a molcajete and tortillero set that goes for $60 USD. That’s literally 20 times more expensive than it should cost.

As someone who lives in Ciudad de México, and who does their shopping at local tianguis and mercados, I have literally bought the exact same set Verve Culture is selling. I paid $60 pesos for the set – not $60 USD – or about $3 USD.

Selling items like this at such inflated prices means Verve Culture is profiting off of the cultural and gastronomic identity of an entire country. So it’s no surprise that Mexican Twitter lit up in shock and anger.

The reaction on Twitter was swift and full of outrage.

A Tweet showing off the outrageously priced products and accusing the brand of “gentrifying Mexican kitchen cookware” already has 36,000 likes and almost 20,000 retweets.

Among some of the comments include one Twitter user who said “Take your site down. This is an insult to Mexican culture along with all the other cultures you’re profiting off. Our culture is not your home decor!”

Another user tweeted, “…not of them is brown so it should really be named stolen culture because they’re selling fancy versions of things traditional to Mexican culture. Having one is fine, profiting off of a minority or their culture is not fine.”

While at least one person pointed out that the people who craft these items have long been taken advantage of. In a tweet, she said “Culturally we’ve been taught that our incredible craft and culture are worth close to nothing for years now, I really wish we could just collectively erase this mindset but at this point it’s so deeply rooted that thinking differently even feels “wrong” most times.”

Many pointed out that if you want to respect a culture’s food, support actual locals and artesanos.

Shopping online from three women who are not from the communities they’re profiting off of, is now way to support that community. That should be common sense but that site seems to have many customers.

As one Twitter user pointed out, if you really want to support local trabajadores, you should be buying directly from them. Shop in your local flea markets, your Latinx-owned shops and markets, this is how you’ll best help artisans.

The company’s $60 tortilla press was even featured in a Buzzfeed article earlier this year.

In the article, the author points out that the “tortilla press is made in Mexico from old Singer sewing machines and other recycled irons! The cast iron should last you, basically, forever so it’s definitely worth your money.”

That’s all great but where is that money going? How much of the $60 is the Mexican, Moroccan, Thai artisan actually earning from Verve Culture’s sales?

So what is Verve Culture and what do they have to say about all of this?

According to their website, Verve Culture is “a women-run business spanning three generational groups from Baby Boomer, Gen X, to Millennial.” As founders, Jules and Jacquie are a mother and daughter team who have worked together for 27 years.

In the company’s about section, they go on to say, “We are in constant pursuit of life traveled fully.”

“Our vision is to explore the cultural richness of artisans and communities around the world – to educate and inspire, while honoring the traditions and heritage of their work.”

Despite these claims, Twitter has been loud and clear in its message: stop profiting off the backs of already underpaid and overworked artisans from around the world.

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