After their beginnings in the 1970’s and their successful days of the 1980’s and early 1990’s, by 1999 Los Tigres del Norte didn’t need to prove or show to anyone that they are Los Jefes de Jefes (The Chiefs of Chiefs) like their 1997 albums is titled. The group of brothers of this Norteno group where so popular that in 1988 they became the first Mexican group to win an American Grammy. In 1999, Los Tigres made an attendance record as their concert in downtown Mexico City gathering more than 150,000 people to watch them. Their album Herencia de Familia had just come out and one of their main songs was El Triunfo. After their song Los Jefes de Jefes where they claimed to still be the best, new Norteno groups had started to come out, one of them being Los Tucanes de Tijuana. In response to Los Jefes de Jefes song, Los Tucanes came out with a song calling Los Tigres old and little cats that needed to step out the way; obviously in a more indirect way.
In response Los Tigres came out with the song El Triunfo, a song targeted to the jealous ones. A very powerful part of the song is where it says the following: “that one that follows my steps must start respecting me, because halfway of the road they can end up tripping.” Another good part of the songs the lyrics says how to start enjoying your life instead of being so jealous. The part where the Triumph part comes up is at the end, where the songs specifies how “the triumph is not the money, don’t get this wrong my friend, the sun always comes out for the right one, those who want to be great must follow my steps.” The song is in Spanish and is sometimes hard to translate how powerful the lyrics are as it uses many Mexican phrases and a very poetic way to make its point.
The music piece and its instruments are very powerful as well. Like in all Norteno music, the accordion which is the main part of the song as it sets out in what tones the song is going to be sung. The accordion is played by the lead singer. Most of the time, the tone patterns the accordion plays at the beginning of the song is what determines the tone patters the lyrics are going to be sang. The accordion is also important as it plays at the beginning of the song to start it off, at the middle of the song for the break of the lyric part, at the end to finish it, and sometimes in-between.
Another big part of this song is the electric base. In most genres of music, the base is always that boring sound on the background everyone hears. In Nortenas there is also always the guy in the back just making the classic one two duple meter rhythm in corridas, a one two three for cumbias, and a one (two guitar/drums) rhythm for slower triple meter ones. In this case, El Triunfo is played in a duple meter, but what makes Los Tigres different than all is the way their base player plays. Not only is he not in the back, not only is he second voice and in many songs first voice, but the way he changes the tones in their songs especially in this one, it is unique. He does not have to follow the classic duple meter base then bajo-sexto/drum then base then bajo-sexto/drum rhythm, but can change and have variable tones without losing the duple meter the song is in. Obviously the bajo-sexto and drums also help a lot in not losing the beat. They to have their unique tones as the bajo-sexto sometimes avoids following the drums and plays a very good harmony.
Today most of the young do not follow or listen to Los Tigres del Norte much as they have become old. Banda and the new Norteno Alterada which includes the tuba as base and has a much faster beat, has taken over the classic Norteno. Many of the Norteno groups that came out in the late 90s did become famous, but never reached the heights of Los Tigres Del Norte. Till today, Los Tigres Del Norte are next to Vicente Fernandez as the best in Mexican Music history. This song, El Triunfo, comes to show the strength it had, as it came to show the message of how hard it was to get to the top not only by lyrics but also with the music itself.
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