May 31, 2020

Bullets, love and synthesizers | Culture

A white float thrown by four horses and escorted by majorettes, circus giants and an endless band of music On 21 March, the center of Naples paralyzed. The convoy organized a huge traffic jam that prevented, among other things, an act of homage to the victims of the Mafia. The next day, the same procession reached the northern periphery of Secondigliano, causing a similar collapse and the expectation of a whole neighborhood that took to the streets to hunt for a selfi. On board were the superstar of melodic music Tony Colombo and Tina Rispoli, widow of Gennaro Marino, one of the capos who starred the split of the Di Lauro clan in 2004 and one of the bloodiest wars of the Camorra. The public celebration of his love, a grotesque spectacle that was sneaked into the television news, was also the official staging of the marriage between Neapolitan organized crime and a musical genre that ended up glossing his adventures. The courtship, however, began much earlier.

The origin of neomelodic music, in full swing for years, is found in the traditional Neapolitan song. But the verismo, that literary story of the marginality and the rubbings in closed dialect on broken hearts and betrayals sound today accompanied by synthesizers, rhythm boxes and jets of voice. In some themes of that primitive genre built with mandolins at the beginning of the 20th century, there were already mentions of organized crime, as the writer Roberto Saviano. In Guapparia, for example, written in 1914 by the poet Libero Bovio, a capo sings a serenade to his girlfriend. The godfather, afflicted, admits that love has shattered his career as a criminal leader. It was the germ of an urban narrative, of periphery and bad life, decades ahead of phenomena such as gangsta rap in the US or the narcocorridos in Mexico.

To Luigi Giuliano, known as Lovegino, chief of the clan in the eighties of the district of Forcella, epicenter then of the camorrístico power, he liked to compose his songs. Sometimes, he paid local artists like Ciro Ricci to give him a voice. Others, decided to sing them himself (not bad, by the way). The private televisions, through pirate frequencies (about 60 in those days), were looping that music, converted into the soundtrack of a fruitful criminal stage in which the New Organized Camorra (NCO) was founded. He, on the other hand, preferred to set up a musical magazine (Sciuè Sciuè), a journalistic monster that sought to promote the neomelódicos singers, already converted at that time into a sort of crime minstrels who later end up sponsoring. Today, at 66, volatilized after having repented and sung another type of music before a judge, he continues composing his songs and posting them on YouTube, the main distribution channel of the neomelodics.

Saviano: "This music deals with everyday life and crimes; glorify the deeds of the capos and their symbols "

A new litter of singers, much more direct and explicit in the lyrics, coexists with the classics. The scene, without too many means and with a limited capacity to move about 200 million euros a year, has regained its vigor through the networks. But the record industry and royalties they hardly exist. Most make their living at weddings, baptisms and birthdays, like Leo Ferrucci, one of the biggest neomelodic stars. Many times their employers have nothing to do with the criminal world and are just fans. Others are relatives of prisoners or the own capos of the clans who hire them to sing and praise their adventures. This is what there is, they defend. Nobody hides

At the beginning of June, in the program Realiti of the Rai2 public channel, Leonardo Zappalà, a 19-year-old singer, who was not even born when the mafia murdered the judges and Giovanni Falcone and Paolo Borsellino, they dispatched against them in prime time insinuating that they had looked for it. "If you like the sweet, you have to like the bitter," challenged the presenter. Next to him, Niko Pandetta, nephew of the capo Salvatore Pillera, sentenced to life imprisonment under 41 Bis regime (the hardest in Italy), explained how he had financed his first CD with an important assault. The scandal ended with a judicial investigation and the derision of public television. They had the minute of fame they were looking for.

The neomelódico singer Gino Esposito sings in the celebration of a wedding.

The neomelódico singer Gino Esposito sings in the celebration of a wedding.

The neomelodic reality often seeks its own aesthetics in fiction. Daniele De Martino, one of the new young talents, accumulates millions of visualizations in videos like Command io, where he recreates the fight between rival clans. In Vincenzo Mosca's videos, as Onore e dignità, everything happens in an environment of scooters, automatic pistols and traffickers that is fed back with the imagery of Gomorra by Roberto Saviano.

The 'boss' Giuliano composed his subjects and edited a magazine of the genre

The Neapolitan writer, one of the intellectuals who best knows the rudiments of the Camorra and its surroundings, believes that neomelodic music has always had a link with the mafia. "The relationship is of two types. First, productive. The Prestieri family, lieutenants of the Di Lauro clan, always invested in music. Tommaso Prestieri, for example, organized concerts and wrote songs (he later decided to collaborate with justice in 2014 and the whole sector began to tremble). There was a technical investment, in means and logistics. But also a participation and inspiration of the texts. Neomelodic music deals with everyday life and, therefore, with crimes. Glorify the heroic deeds of the capos and explain the symbols that compose them. Pentito (of the singer Patrizio), for example, is a famous song that sang against the repentant of the mafia, "says Saviano, under escort since the Camorra put a price on his head 13 years ago.

A boy from S. Giovanni to Teduccio, on the outskirts of Naples, wears a T-shirt by rapper Tupac Shakur.

A boy from S. Giovanni to Teduccio, on the outskirts of Naples, wears a T-shirt by rapper Tupac Shakur.

The product GomorraThat is the paradox, it marks a milestone in the career of many of them. Several songs by Franco Ricciardi integrate the soundtrack of the series. And Anthony, one of the best voices of the neomelodic galaxy, produced one theme for the film and another for the television version. He does not compose the letters, but the market dictates the laws, defends the telephone. "We sing what people want and this is one of the themes. If you make a good song, even if it talks about bad life, it is heard. I would like to go sing Sanremo, so you can understand me. But we are in Naples and, if Neapolitan music allows us to be well and earn some money, then we do it, "he says. At some point he had problems with the justice – they accused him of singing the topic A'LiBertha, allegedly written by a capo for his imprisoned son, and has sung against the repentant. But it was a long time ago, he says, and today he works piecework at the best moment of his career. "I already told you that singing these songs does not mean that you frequent these people. When I'm hired for ceremonies I'm not asking people about their background. I sing and then everyone makes their choice of life. Today to work, you have to do it that way. If we wait for the judges to give us work, we will die of hunger. "

The star Anthony: "I'm not asking for background to those who hire me"

The neomelódica looks for new sounds in the trap and rap, as pointed out by Professor Marcello Ravveduto, author of numerous essays on the subject and the book The mafia show. But the story always looks like. "It's a social phenomenon that explains a certain evolution of Naples that, unlike other cities, has a local culture. It was the only metropolis that was already before the unification of Italy. And a lot of that culture was filtered through music. Today the rowdy Neapolitans find there the same thing that a certain type of African-Americans found in the hip hop of artists like Tupac Shakur (died shot in 1996). That's why a lot of neomelódica becomes rap. This music tells what happens in the urban and social periphery of the city. And drugs are the main element of the economy in that world. "

An anti-Mafia prosecutor: "It is difficult to accuse them, it is only an apology for a social status"

The link with crime, sometimes, goes beyond the lyrical. Some singers, managers and producers have been arrested for their ties to the Camorra, from whom they obtained contracts and recordings. The clan of the Casalesi-signatories of the sentence of death to Saviano– created for years its own network of musicians, to whom only gave 30% of the profits. Others, like Raffaello, also author of one of the hits of the series of Gomorra, they arrested him for taking out a gun and shooting in a bar. Marco Marfé, former participant of the talent show XFactor, they took him handcuffed for participating in a network of usury and extortion managed by his mother, head of the clan. Others, such as manager Enrico Assante, were about to be killed for forgetting to ask permission to a capo to organize a performance of one of his favorite musicians (Carmelo Zappulla). The letters can also be a crime and Nello Liberti, who in his time was the best known, ended up behind bars for instigating a crime with Il capo clan (an ode to boss by Ercolano Vincenzo Oliverio). The majority, however, never paid with firm convictions.

A truck announces the concert of Andre Sannino last week in Naples.

A truck announces the concert of Andre Sannino last week in Naples.

The Neapolitan Franco Roberti, ex-anti-Mafia prosecutor of Italy, has dedicated half a life to pursue the camorrístico system. But he does not believe that these artists can easily be condemned. "In Italy we have freedom of speech and thought. And his is inspired by a logic of exaltation of the supposed values ​​of being rowdy and mobster. The man of honor, by word, brave … It is a wrong thought that does not represent reality. It's not worth it and maybe the neomelódico singer should not participate in the celebrations of those families. But they are difficult individual cases to pursue. I do not see it as something serious or alarming, but as a social expression, "he says.

The crime of apology of the mafia exists in Italy. And the laws are very strict. "But for a crime of this kind to occur there has to be absolute clarity. In some cases, certain expressions tend to that. But it never ended with big sentences. There must be apology for a crime. They make it a social condition, a human profile, but not homicide or extortion. The problem, rather, is that the neomelódicos also like those who are not mobsters and little by little the culture feeds back, "insists Roberti.

Today that sub-industry expands and grows in the fashion of crime and new bands, much younger than a few years ago and eager for a sound and television culture that legitimizes its acceleration. The love between Tony Colombo and Tina Rispoli has been finished only four months later, report the heart magazines these days in Italy. Marriage between the worlds they represent, on the other hand, is in full form.

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