El Cacique de Menkoremón, "The Chieftain of Menkoremón," is an Amazon original. Making his living touring through Peru's remote central Amazon, Menko (as he's affectionately known) has a huge local fan base. On nights that he plays in a Comunidad Nativa (an indigenous community), everyone from miles around catches whatever means of river transport available to come drink masato (fermented yuca) and party. The music is for dancing, but Menko's lyrics never shy away from how hard life can get be the jungle. Whether it's about poverty, logging, love, infidelity, a trip to the witch doctor or a bisexual monkey, if you're from the jungle, Menko's got your song. And if you're not from the jungle, you're still welcome to dance along.
Menko's debut album La Cumbia Selvática came out in 2011. In Peru's central Amazon, it's still a huge hit. And his videos are legendary. Shot with peoples' cellphones, he somehow gets them edited and released, even though Menko has no access to (or interest in) technology or the internet. Huarmi Icaro is about a trip to the witch doctor to fix a love gone wrong. It's probably the only hit song you'll ever hear sung partially in Asháninka (the local indigenous language), which Menko speaks fluently. Another big song from the album is El Ritmo del Toayo, a song about a bird known for never making a nest: "I have no home/ I have no nest/ I lay my egg/ In the trash/ I have neither home/ Nor love, nor love."