Victoria La Mala
Urban banda singer Victoria La Mala (Ortiz) melds the classic Mexican regional sound descending from the lineage of Paquita la del Barrio (Francisca Viveros Barradas) and Jenni Rivera with hip-hop and urban dance-pop. Her own description is telling: "If Tupac and Selena had a love child, it would be me." Her stage name, La Mala, translates to Anglo as "The Bad," and her public and stage demeanor often flaunts controversy, but these attitudes underscore an identity born of an educated, music industry-savvy feminism.
Ortiz was born in Mexico City. Her mother, Lupita Ortiz, is a film actress possessed of a fine singing voice -- she was La Mala's first influence. Her father, Jesús Octavio Hernández Gómez, was a lawyer from Culiacán, Sinaloa, the city where banda was born. He was a big fan of the sound and often played it around the house. La Mala had family in Los Angeles, and she spent a great deal of time there with cousins, absorbing their music and popular culture. She brought records home and sang on her bed, trying to imitate the female divas of the era. After high school, La Mala decided to pursue a career in music. After recording some demos, she landed an opening slot on a national tour by Nina Sky and N.O.R.E. In pursuit of a career, she left Mexico for New York City, performing nightly club shows in the boroughs. These offered little reward and she returned to Mexico -- Guadalajara, to be exact, an epicenter for banda.
In Guadalajara she met producer Ivan Diaz and recorded a demo of the Olga Tañón hit "Ahora Soy Mala." It found its way through the music business until it got to José "Pepe" Garza (who helped launch the careers of Rivera, Chalino Sanchez, El Coyote, and many others). Impressed, Garza approached her with a proposition: if she would compete on the reality talent show Duetos, an intense and grueling TV program where contestants compete in three categories -- singing, dancing, and acting -- he would push "Ahora Soy Mala" to radio. She competed on Duetos and Garza followed through on his promise -- and "Ahora Soy Mala" became a hit. In addition, La Mala was embraced by the television show's two music producers, who aided her in launching her self-released debut album, Mala, in 2014. Her video for third single "El Corrido del Amor" received almost two million views on YouTube.
La Mala toured hard across Northern Mexico, sang the national anthem at soccer stadiums, and was dubbed Hot Latin Artist to Watch by NBC Universal's Mun2 cable network. The record had legs, and La Mala gained a large audience across Mexico. A year later, Billboard named her one of its annual Latin Artists to Watch -- she was the only one listed in banda. After signing to Virgin/EMI, La Mala cut her debut single, "Vete Mucho," which displayed her now signature weave of punchy banda, hip-hop beats, pop production, and hardcore feminism. The track not only scored big at radio, but its video broke through to become the first by a Mexican regional artist ever to be shown on Tidal. La Mala followed the track -- which charted across airplay and digital spectrums -- with the banda single "Si Va a Doler Que Duela" in May of 2017, followed by a pop version in June, and each version was accompanied by a distinct video. ~ Thom Jurek