Chico Trujillo


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Chile's Chico Trujillo is arguably the nation's most popular cumbia band. Their music mixes pieces of the genre's rich historical past with global influences, from rock and ska to hip-hop, dubwise reggae, punk, bolero, and Latin R&B.
Their sound is deeply rooted in the cumbias of the pre-Pinochet years and incorporates virtually every aspect of Chile's popular culture, as evidenced by 2001's Chico Trujillo y la Señora Imaginación. Though best-known for live performances (they have toured almost constantly since 2002), they record sporadically, and their albums have consistently attained critical acclaim and commercial success. Their joyous, irreverent, riotous dance-party concerts have been staged at Lollapalooza on both sides of the Atlantic, and been presented on stages large (football stadiums and festivals) and small (nightclubs) across the globe. 2007's Cumbia Chilombiana, with its singles "The Conductor" and "Lanzaplatos," was their breakthrough outing, though they'd already established a concert following. 2010's Vivito y Coleando, a live offering, won a following Stateside, while 2013's Gran Pecador, with its reliance on everything from surf music and vallenato to urban cumbia, psychedelic, ska, and punk, became their most commercially popular outing. In 2019, the band celebrated its 20th anniversary with the album Mambo Mundial (Barbès Records).
2001 saw the release of their debut album, Chico Trujillo y la Señora Imaginación (later released in Germany as Up the Ass!). Due to a pair of radio-friendly singles in "Y Si No Fuera" and "Maria Rea," the record became an instant success in their homeland. Their fusion of rock, ska, and hip-hop, with traditional cumbia, and a hint of Balkan wedding music, delightfully surprised radio listeners. The band's live show was even more popular given the band's energy, sophisticated charts, and reliance on a good-time vibe. 2003's Fiesta de Reyes was a live outing that caught fire in Europe. Given the band's touring schedule, it was impossible to rehearse or record much. Nonetheless, they managed to try new material on-stage to the delight of audiences across Chile, Ecuador, and Colombia.
In 2007, Chico Trujillo issued the studio outing Cumbia Chilombiana, preceded by two Top Ten singles -- "La Escoba" and "The Conductor" -- while "Lanzaplatos!" arrived in 2008 in advance of their follow-up Plato Unico Bailable. By this time, Chico Trujillo were playing stages across Europe on various rock and jazz festival stages. They uncharacteristically released two more albums -- Chico de Oro and the live Vivito y Coleando -- in 2009 and 2010, and in 2011, were invited to play the main stage at Lollapalooza Chile. American critic Jon Pareles was in the audience and remarked in the New York Times that, "Syncopation, momentum, and a way of romping through pain -- a party band needs them all, and Chico Trujillo has them." The group played the popular festival in the United States in 2012 (the same year they released their Barbes Records debut El Gran Pecador) and added major U.S. coastal cities to their tour.
In 2016, Chico Trujillo issued the concept outing La Reina de Todas Las Fiestas, driven by the eponymous allegorical feminine figure Reina who symbolizes the Central and South American traditions of celebration and community across all race, age, gender, and economic lines. Though noted by some critics as a political outing, La Reina was greeted by radio, club DJs, and concert promoters with open ears as a collection of dancefloor cumbias. After touring Europe, Asia, Latin America, and the United States, Chico Trujillo celebrated their 20th anniversary with Mambo Mundial, an 11-track outing that included guest appearances from collaborators Son Rompe Pera, Rebel Diaz, Los Gaiteros de San Jacinto, Las Manos de Fillipi, and Camilo Salinas. In November, they released the non-album single "Cumbia Algarrobera," a session outtake with Son Rompe Pera. ~ Thom Jurek, Rovi


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