By Rafael Velasquez |Staff Writer|
African-American sings narcocorridos.
The first African-American, known as “El Compa Negro,” Spanish for “The Black Dude,” emerged into the regional Mexican music scene, dominated by mostly Mexican and Spanish speaking Mexican-Americans, throughout the past year.
Rhyan Lowery began his career performing at high schools in 2011, but he quickly progressed into performing at local clubs, bars, restaurants and small concert halls throughout Los Angeles.
The Compton native’s core musical genres are narcocorridos, a subcategory of corridos, notorious for glorifying bloody cartel violence.
The up-and-coming artist performances covers songs such as Omar Ruiz’s “El Quesito,” Ariel Camacho Y Los Plebes Del Rancho’s “Te Metiste” and Noel Torres’ “El Comando Del Diablo.”
The musician also performed his music alongside his influence, Larry Hernandez.
The musician’s interest in traditional Mexican music began in his early teens after moving to a family-owned land in Perris from the urban-driven city of Compton, both of which have a high population of Spanish speakers.
The move to a rural area with a heavy influx of Mexican migrants, coupled with his Spanish-speaking skills, increased his aspirations for singing Mexican music that is common among rural communities in Mexico; however, he kept close ties with his urban roots.
The musician returned to his native Compton where he quickly appealed to Spanish speakers throughout LA and surrounding suburbs.
He participated in several Spanish language TV shows such as “Tengo Talento, Mucho Talento,” where he received harsh, racist criticism from the judges, but eventually gained rapid recognition from local viewers.
The participant’s encounters with racism by his Mexican counterparts in the Spanish music industry is due partly to the overwhelming predominance of Mexicans; however, that motivated him to prove even more his Spanish speaking skills through music.
Many narcocorrido enthusiasts became envious while others were shocked at the fact that a non-Mexican can sing Mexican music.
Local producers offered him gigs after realizing his potential of singing like a true Mexican without missing a beat.
Lowery also became known as the “Mexican Eminem” by some online news sources, such as LA Weekly because of his singing style that resembles that of Mexican narcocorrido artists.
This music has become more popular as an influx of non-Mexicans perform the sound of Mexico, encouraging other ethnic backgrounds to be accepted into the scene.
“El Compa Negro” proved that no one has to be Mexican to vocally cherish the music of Mexico.