Silvestre Dangond: the man that my host sister refers to as “el amor de mi vida” (the love of my life). He’s one of the most popular modern vallenato singers, but I didn’t know who he was until I saw him on TV. Silvestre, like the last three artists I featured, was a judge for a TV singing competition show. Now I can’t escape him. His most recent single is one of the most catchy and popular songs in Colombia since Daddy Yankee’s “Shaky Shaky.”
Catchy, right?! Are you already singing along? Ayyyyyyy ya no me duele más… (I don’t know any other words from that song, but I sing those 5 at the top of my lungs.)
This isn’t the first time I’ve brought up Silvestre Dangond on this blog. Back when my pal James Everett wrote a post about vallenato for me, he mentioned that Silvestre is part of the “new wave” movement. In the last edition of Music Monday, I linked to a video of a song he did with Gusi. Silvestre is a big deal. Big enough that he closed out the 2015 Latin Grammy awards with American reggaeton superstar Nicky Jam.
While you might think he was some sort of Colombian deity by the way people talk about him, rest assured he is a human…just of the rockstar variety. Which is to say, he is farfarfar from perfect.
He caused a village much alarm when he and his drunk friends started shooting off guns at a party (into the air).
He grabbed a kid’s genitals at a show (the minor had climbed on stage because he wanted to sing with Silvestre, and when the artist sent the kid walking, he did it with a kiss on the head and a ball grab).
He brings in $100 million pesos per concert ($35K USD), but pays his musicians $500 thousand pesos per concert ($175 USD).
He was recorded on video snorting a white substance (it was drugs for his sinus infection, he said).
He named his male sons Silvestre José and José Silvestre, for goodness’ sake!
However, I think the most interesting controversy surrounding him is the political one. Supposedly at a 2012 concert he insulted President George W. Bush and said “que viva Chávez!” (I watched the video and heard the “insult” of GWB, but didn’t hear the shout of praise of Chávez.) What really makes this a controversy is that in 2015 while performing the song above, Silvestre changed the lyrics to “pa’ que sepa, pa’ que sepa, pa’ que sepa que Uribe se respeta.” Interpretations had this as praise of former Colombian president Álvaro Uribe Vélez, adversary of Hugo Chávez. I don’t know that I really believe that, given that the album art has him dressed like…well, not like a member of the Colombian Army, but the member of an army. Perhaps a guerrilla fighter or paramilitary?
Silvestre is, to me, sort of like a Kanye West.
Then again maybe not. That might be giving Silvestre more credit than he deserves.