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Roots Of Chicha: Psychedelic Cumbias From Peru

Roots Of Chicha: Psychedelic Cumbias From Peru

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The Roots of Chicha, compiled by Barbès Records, was originally released in 2007 and became the first recording to popularize psychedelic cumbia around the world.

From the late 60's through the 80's, Peruvians invented a new popular musical hybrid inspired by music from the Americas. In 1968, Enrique Delgado released his first record on Odeon with his new group, Los Destellos, single-handedly creating Peruvian cumbia. He codified the genre early on by using the electric guitar as the primary melodic instrument, and mixing cumbia rhythms with folkloric huaynos, criollo voicings, Cuban guarachas and guajiras, rock, boogaloo, surf, psychedelia, oriental music, classical music, and bits and pieces from Brazil, France, Chile... All Peruvian cumbia bands for the next thirty years would end up drawing from the exact same sources (Grupo Celeste, Los Mirlos, Juaneco Y Su Combo, Manzanita Y Su Conjunto...).

This new wave of Peruvian cumbia came to be known as chicha. Chicha is originally the name of an alcoholic drink, made of fermented maize, which the Incas were especially fond of. In the past thirty years, however, the word has taken on a pejorative connotation. Peruvian cumbia started being called chicha in the late 70s, around the same time that the music came to be viewed as the expression of the slums – the pueblos jovenes. Little by little, the word became an adjective, and people now talk of chicha culture, chicha press, chicha architecture, even of a chicha president, and none if it – you guessed right – is meant as a compliment. Chicha suggests corruption, shady deals, and cholos – a derogatory term for a person of Andean heritage that, of late, is being reclaimed and worn as a badge of honor by the very cholos it was supposed to demean in the first place.
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