By Marco Werman
A lot of my musical education has to do with my family, says Perrozompopo. His older brother is singer and salsa heartthrob Luis Enrique. Perrozompopo’s uncle is Carlos Mejia Godoy. Godoy, now in his 70s, is something of the folk-music laureate of Nicaragua.
He also ran for vice-president in 2006. Uncle Carlos Mejia Godoy happens to be the father of Camilo Mejia. He’s the US resident and former GI who was the first conscientious objector to the US military operation in Iraq. While that IS another story, Perrozompopo says it shows his family’s commitment to political activism.
Perrozompopo : “We Mejias are taught at an early age that it is important to contribute to your country. Part of what I do is about my family and who they are as musicians and activists. But I also think ALL Nicaraguans believe that as we are faced with new challenges, it’s up to us to bring change to our country.”
That’s a credo Perrozompopo’s been following since he began making music. Perrozompopo’s first single released in Nicaragua was “Rios de Gente,” rivers of people. That was in 2007.
A friend had asked him to help score some music for a new radio soap-opera, a radio-novella. The show dealt with immigration issues. The target audience was 150 rural radio stations across Central America. Perrozompopo loved the idea mostly because he wanted to connect with people often beyond his reach. “Rios de Gente” became the theme for the radio-novella.
Marco: “You address so many current topics: war, poverty, corruption, child abuse…”
Perrozompopo: “There are many people who are activists, but non-musical activists. In Nicaragua, there isn’t much of a music industry. And not having a music industry means you can explore music in a different way, with more of an open mind. It means you can use different language and address different topics. And for me, it’s important to address those topics in Nicaragua. It’s not enough to be an artist. We have to be critical artists.”
These days says Perrozompopo, it’s not a risky thing to be a critical artist in Nicaragua, to make political statements in your music. He also says that he leans toward the poetic, and is neither aggressive nor explicit in his lyrics.
That is true and who knows what Latin Grammy voters think when they cast their ballots. But Perrozompopo must be grabbing their attention with his radio-friendly songs: political lyrics set to music that can soothe you like a lullaby. Download MP3