*So, is this young man the Charley Pride of Mexican music?
Hmm, could b
The world of Mexican music may seem different for many black teens, but it feels very natural for Rhyan Lowery.
The black 19-year-old Compton-born teen, who also goes by the name El Compa Negro (The Black Buddy) is building a buzz and generating headlines for putting his love of Mexican music on display through performing cumbias and corridos every weekend with his band, Los Mas Poderosos.
“We’re selling a concept,” Lowery’s manager and backup singer Antonio Lopez shared with the Los Angeles Times about the man he labeled as “El primer afro americano de la música mexicana” (The first African American in Mexican music.). “We’re selling the beauty of someone from another race that is doing things and doing them very well in a market that’s not his.”
Lowery’s talents have apparently struck a nerve with Danny Ramirez , 23, who applauded the singer’s efforts.
“Un moreno cantando corridos … I like that,” Ramirez told the Times, using the Spanish word for a dark-skinned or black person. “He’s representing the Mexican community. Nobody would expect a black person singing corridos.”
The Times notes that Lowery’s embrace of Mexican music falls in line with the changing demographic in Compton. The city, which boasted a predominantly black population back in the day. The publication referenced data from the Minnesota Population Center, National Historical Geographic Information System and the American Community Survey, which pointed out that Compton’s black population stood at 73.9% in 1980, compared with 21.1% Latino.
Over the years, the gap between Latinos and blacks started to close as a 52.7% black population existed amid a 43.7% Latino population in 1990. By 2000, Latinos rose above blacks with 56.8% to 39.9%. That fact was further enforced in 2013 as Latinos made up 67.3% of the population in Compton, compared to a black population of 29.4%.
Lowery and Los Mas Poderosos are known to visit and perform every weekend at restaurants, nightclubs and places that cater to Mexican immigrants and second-generation Mexican Americans. Although he’s not fluent in Spanish, the teen admits to knowing Mexican Spanish slang and being able to hold his own in conversations with friends. When performing, Lowery is quick to ask Lopez or a bandmate for assistance when he doesn’t recognize a Spanish in light of the fact that he never wants to sing a song he doesn’t fully understand.
With a third place showing on the Spanish-language program “Tengo Talento, Mucho Talento” — I Have Talent, Lots of Talent as well as being featured on Univision and Telemundo, exposure has been present for Lowery who first heard the corridos he sings in 2009.
As for his El Compa Negro nickname, that came from a friend in high school, according to the Times.
Despite the buzz, there are those (including other performers) who have dismissed Lowery as nothing beyond a novelty act and feel he has no place in Mexican music.
“They were like, ‘Why would you go after something like that? You’re not Mexican,'” Lowery voiced to the Times about the criticism, which he also got from schoolmates growing up.. “That’s the whole reason why I’m doing it. I’m not Mexican, and I want to show the world that music is universal.”
For more of the Times’ story on Lowery, click here. To see footage of Lowery singing, check out the video below:
Click on the video below to see an interview featuring Lowery: