| by Reuben "Judah" Torres
Vice meets Bandamax. That was my first impression upon viewing 3BALL MTY’s new video for “Intentalo.” Of course, it’s not as if no one saw this coming, especially after the group’s initial breakthrough feature in The Fader, and a certain infamous video by Vice. But tribal's roots have always been with the populace, originating in the flea markets of Tepito before making its way to northern Mexico and beyond.
One aspect I’d like to point to tends to be overlooked in the discourse surrounding tribal, and that is that its assumed role within the continuum of onda grupera and the tradition of cumbia mexicana. You’d be hard-pressed to overlook its commonalities with the latter, especially as tribal adopts the less rave-friendly 3/4 time signature, a staple of the cumbia sound. Its purely electronic nature easily recalls the '90s tecnocumbia sound of iconic acts like Mi Banda El Mexicano. Granted, the grupero connection has been easier to miss––especially as tribal is mostly based around singular DJ figures––but it becomes all the more evident with the inclusion of El Bebeto and America Sierra, both paragons of la onda grupera, as guest vocalists on “Intentalo." Particularly noteworthy is the fact that all three members of 3BALL MTY appear together as a group (or perhaps conjunto?), further reinforcing the notion that the group’s aim lies with that audience. Never mind duranguense, this is the grupero sound of the 21st century.
In an interview with Noiselab a few years ago, Toy Selectah––who has served as a sort of mentor figure for 3BALL MTY since their inception–– predicted that, in the coming years, rave music would become “la música de las periferias,” or the music of the urban outskirts, as it were. “Intentalo” is a testament to tribal’s new stature as an authentic regional Mexican style with its goal firmly bent on mass appeal. But, almost as if preempting global commodification, it winks at its presumed hipster audience, all the while basking in all its pointy boots glory.