Hip hop culture has long been associated with gangs, violence and vandalism. But a wide range of actors in Latin America are attempting to work past longstanding biases and challenges to experiment with these art forms as alternatives for at-risk youths who might otherwise engage in criminal activity.
One media outlet in Mexico has poked fun at Joaquín "El Chapo" Guzmán's international cultural prominence with a spoof article claiming he will be immortalized in a new video game. While evidently untrue, the article underscores the very real and growing fascination with representations of narco culture in both the United States and Mexico.
Leaving narco messages in instances when a victim is killed in a bloodthirsty manner is a strategy employed by criminal groups to gain "respect" and "build a reputation among their rivals and society as a whole," according to a study by the Center for Research and Economic Development (Centro de Investigación y Desarrollo Económico - CIDE) that analyzed more than 2,000 such messages.
He often describes himself as the "living memory" of the Medellín Cartel, but the truth is that Jhon Jairo Velásquez was an assassin for Pablo Escobar, the infamous drug lord. A murderer who has managed to trivialize his sins, he has become an internet sensation and, curiously, an activist for Colombia's political right.