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Studies in Latin American Popular Culture


Volcanto music is a specific label for Nicaraguan testimonial music, coined after the 1979 left-wing triumph of the Frente Sandinista de Liberación Nacional (FSLN, or Sandinistas). This protest music, with its roots in the Latin American Nueva Canción genre, has evolved over the years from folkloric and rural music with socially committed lyrics to one with hybrid sounds and global influences. Ramón Mejía, better known as Perrozompopo, is one of Nicaragua’s most celebrated contemporary singer-songwriters who has continued the volcanto tradition with his hybrid compilations. As the nephew of Carlos Mejía Godoy, Nicaragua’s most influential composer of volcanto music, Perrozompopo has social and musical advantages because he will always be associated with the volcanto tradition; however, his focus on urban spaces and contemporary social problems somewhat distances his songs from the more traditional protest music steeped in rural folklore. His alternative urban rock style and socially committed lyrics, therefore, encourage listeners to reimagine the volcanto tradition. By drawing on Josh Kun’s theoretical concept of audiotopia, this article argues that Perrozompopo infuses Nicaraguan volcanto music with global sounds, creating a hybrid musical style with audio(u)topian longings for a more just society.