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The Rebirth of Tijuana Cool: Ruidosón


Tijuana is a border town that has experienced the good, the bad and the ugly of drugs and immigration policy -- the ripple effects of 9/11.

Less tourism from the gringos also meant less money coming in. There was a lot of paranoia and an increase of drug violence on the streets. Tijuana was deemed a ghost town riddled with shootouts, and as a result the hustle and bustle waned on Avenida Revolucion. Despite the bad times, Tijuana's musical youth have fought the monotony of doom-and-gloom news by creating heart-thumping party music that hugs the traditional sounds of Mexico.

Lifestyles started shifting and a new music era was born. Less became more. Young adults sought the solace and safety of the Internet and their computers. For the first time, the nightlife scene was geared towards locals over tourists. Clubs were out, dive bars were in.

With the economy down, artists had less to work with, but the simplicity and portability of the computer as an instrument revived musical creativity to a whole new level. Songs were actually being sequenced and recorded in the bedrooms of Tijuana. Mipsters (Mexican hipsters) had something new to be happy about: dancing to 'ruidosón.' Local bars like La Sexta, La Mezcalera and La Chupateria started booking ruidosón musicians to revive the nightlife money.

The term 'ruidosón' was coined in 2008 by Moisés Horta, bassist of Los Macuanos, while talking on MSN chat with Tony Gallardo of María y José. Ruidosón is made up of two Spanish words: ruido (noise) and són (roots). For Los Macuanos, the sound embodies two musical movements: L.A. noise and traditional regional Mexican music. It truly is a genre that flexes its bicultural muscles. For many ruidosón artists, their feet are grounded in two places: Tijuana and the U.S., making their music even more textured.

Ruidosón is the heir apparent to Nortec Collective's pioneering sound. Omar Lizarraga of the duo Sonido Travesura admits, “Nortec put the world's attention and cameras on Tijuana. They built the art in this city.” Lizarraga continues, “Here [in Tijuana] things are never stagnant. And instead they begin to build -- if anything they're always in motion. In our case we feel completely absorbed in our city. In the end you realize Tijuana is our [musical] laboratory."