Los Kumbia Kings are a Mexican musical group. The band was founded in the late 1980s by four brothers, all of whom were born with the surname “Kumbia.” They are best known for their 1990 album, Kumbia Queers.
Los Kumbia Kings are a Mexican band that has been around for over 30 years. They have released many albums including Que Viva La Cumbia and Kumbia Kings Live.
For years, Abraham Quintanilla III stayed at the forefront of Latin music, mainly as a veteran producer, but also as Selena Quintanilla’s brother, a successful composer, and a divisive figure. With the publication of Selena y los Dinos (1984), the first of many albums that he would produce and co-write, he started his music career alongside that of his famous sister. Selena’s fame grew brighter, and so did his.
Quintanilla retreated from the spotlight for a time after her sad murder in 1995, co-writing infrequent songs for Selena fans like Thala and Olga Taón. In 1999, he re-entered the spotlight with A.B. Quintanilla y los Kumbia Kings, a multilingual hit-making group that combined traditional Mexican music (cumbia, above all) with urban American genres (hip-hop, funk, R&B, reggae), all topped off with a glossy sheen of readily accessible pop accessibility. Los Kumbia Kings, who were always preceded in billing – or subsequently, “presented” – by Quintanilla, had far too many successes to count, and after their first album, they started to reach number one on a regular basis.
Following the release of their fourth album, 4 (2003), the group disintegrated, with all of the group’s main members, including frontmen Frankie J and DJ Kane, leaving bitterly and embarking on their individual solo careers. This animosity was usually accompanied by allusions to “the industry” and how much they’d learnt in Los Kumbia Kings in the media.
The implication, it’s reasonable to assume, is that Quintanilla wasn’t paying the men their due share since he had a history of co-writing songs that weren’t his to begin with — and this has been debated to no clear conclusion. Quintanilla showed himself to be a smart producer and co-writer regardless of whether he was a penny-pincher or not, since he achieved successes with everyone he worked with.
Los Kumbia Kings, for example, remained popular even after their mass regrouping, while Quintanilla found immediate success with a new group of his, the Kumbia All Starz, after another intra-group dispute over money. Abraham Quintanilla III (aka A.B. Quintanilla) was born on December 13, 1963, in Toppenish, Washington, and grew up in Lake Jackson, Texas, with sisters Selena and Suzette.
His mother, Marcella Ophelia Zamora, is Mexican-Native American, while his father, Abraham Quintanilla, Jr., is Mexican-American. Of course, Selena would go on to become a famous — and sad — tejano diva, but she started out fronting Selena y los Dinos. Suzette and Abraham, as well as guitarist Chris Pérez, whom Selena would marry, and keyboardist Ricky Vela, who composed many songs for her over the years, were all members of the group. They played at Papagallos, a restaurant owned by the Quintanilla family.
However, after the restaurant closed, the family was forced to file for bankruptcy and give up their house. Undaunted, they packed their instruments onto a dilapidated bus and drove to Corpus Christi, along the Texas-Mexico border, where they played anywhere they could. Selena y los Dinos were eventually given a recording deal with Freddie Records, a small indie company run by Freddie Martinez, and released a self-titled album in 1984. Freddie would release Mis Primeras Grabaciones (1995) a decade later, which was basically a repackaging of these recordings, some of which are in English since the Quintanillas are natural English speakers who speak Spanish as a second language.
Quintanilla, together with his father, produced Selena y los Dinos and composed a few of the songs. In 1986, he also produced and co-wrote the group’s second and third albums, Alpha and Muequito de Trapo, both published by GP Records. Selena’s first awards were from a Hispanic Music Award (Female Vocalist of the Year) and two Tejano Music Awards, thanks to one of his songs, “Dame un Beso” (Female Vocalist of the Year, Performer of the Year). Selena y los Dinos’ And the Winner Is… (1987), another GP album, capitalized on the praise lavished on the young vocalist, who was just 15 at the time.
Preciosa and Dulce Amor, the group’s last independent albums, were both released by RP Records in 1988 and received additional plaudits, including a Tejano Music Awards nomination for Quintanilla (Songwriter of the Year).
Selena was a growing celebrity in the tejano scene at the time, and EMI saw her and signed her to their Latin division. Los Dinos were no longer billed, and Selena (1989) was her EMI Latin debut. Quintanilla produced and co-wrote the album with Pete Astudillo, who, together with Vela, would co-write almost all of Selena’s songs over the years. Astudillo would eventually go on to have his own solo career. Mis Primeros Éxitos (1990) was Selena’s first album to reach gold status, thanks in part to the popular — and enduring — song “Baila Esta Cumbia,” written by Quintanilla and Astudillo.
Later that year, the label released Ven Conmigo (1990), Selena’s first album to reach gold status, thanks in part to the popular — and enduring — song “Baila Esta Cumbia,” written by Quintanill Even more popular was Entre a Mi Mundo (1992), which included the single “Como la Flor,” another Quintanilla/Astudillo smash that would become Selena’s trademark song.
Quintanilla received a Grammy for Best Mexican-American Album for Live (1993), which was recorded during a performance in Corpus Christi and produced by Quintanilla, and Mis Mejores Canciones: 17 Super Exitos (1993), which collected the best of her EMI albums to far. The film Amor Prohibido (1994) catapulted her into the spotlight.
The album was a success, producing multiple number one singles and dethroning Gloria Estefan’s Mi Tierra from the top spot on the Top Latin Albums list, which Amor Prohibido held for a record-breaking 78 weeks. On March 31, 1995, Selena was tragically killed by Yolanda Saldvar, the head of her fan club. She was just 23 years old at the time.
Quintanilla was upset since he had been with his sister every step of the way as her producer and songwriter. He was working with her on an English-language crossover album at the time of her death, which was subsequently compiled, together with previously available material, and published as Dreaming of You (1995).
Quintanilla took a break from music for a period, reappearing sometimes as a co-writer (Thala’s “Amandote” (1995), Cristian’s “Esperándote” (1996), Olga Taón’s “Siempre en Mi Corazón” (1997)) and producer (Veronica Castro’s Tocada (1997), which he co-produced with Juan Manuel). He returned to the spotlight towards the end of the decade with his own band, A.B. Quintanilla y los Kumbia Kings.
Quintanilla (bass, background vocals), DJ Kane (born Jason Cano; vocals), Frankie J (born Francisco Javier Bautista; vocals), Baby Drew (born Andrew Maes; vocals), Cruz Martinez (keyboards), Alex Ramirez (keyboards), Roy Ramirez (percussion, background vocals), Frankie Aranda (percussion), Quintanilla (bass, background vocals), Quintanilla (bass, background (drums). Cruz Martinez and the two Ramirez brothers, Alex and Roy, were members of Tony Guerrero’s popular tejano ensemble La Sombra.
EMI Latin published A.B. Quintanilla y las Kumbia Kings’ first album, Amor, Familia y Respeto… (1999). Vela and Luigi Giraldo, a studio worker who would work with Quintanilla for many years, co-wrote many of the tunes. Sheila E., Vico C, Roger Troutman, Nu Flavor, Fito Olivares, and Ricardo Muoz, the latter of the famous tejano band Intocable, were among the special guests.
“Azcar,” “Fuiste Mala,” “Se Fue Mi Amor,” “Reggae Kumbia,” “Te Quio a Ti,” and “U Don’t Love Me” were among the singles released, and this slew of successes allowed Amor, Familia y Respeto… reach the Top Ten of the Top Latin Albums list. The album was also nominated for a Grammy, a Latin Grammy, and a Billboard Latin Music Award (Album of the Year by a Group); it won a Billboard Latin Music Award for Album of the Year by a New Artist. Shhh!
(2001), also credited to A.B. Quintanilla & los Kumbia Kings, debuted at number two on the album chart before rising to number one. Cruz Martinez, together with Giraldo and Quintanilla, was now co-writing the majority of the songs. “Think’n About U,” “Shhh!,” “Boom Boom,” “Mi Gente,” “Insomnio,” and “Desde Que No Estás Aqu,” among others, were hit songs, and a remix album, All Mixed Up (2002), was released in the middle of all of the subsequent commercial success.
Quintanilla gathered his most star-studded group of collaborators yet for 4 (2003), another hit-rich chart-topper, while All Mixed Up (2002) tided over eager customers for a time with its own song, “La Cucaracha.” Juan Gabriel, El Gran Silencio, Aleks Syntek, and Ozomatli are among the well-known artists featured on this album. “No Tengo Dinero” and “Don’t Wanna Try,” in particular, were huge successes, and another wave of gap-filling material followed shortly after:
A.B. Quintanilla III Presents Kumbia Kings (2003) repackaged English-language highlights from the group’s discography, while La Historia (2003) repackaged Spanish-language highlights. Quintanilla had a minor problem on his hands while this stream of best-ofs was buying time: most of his Kumbia Kings were deserting, reportedly because they weren’t pleased with their salary — if they were getting paid at all.
(DJ Kane was paid $100,000 after successfully suing for his fair share.) Almost all of the departees described their time with the Los Kumbia Kings as a “cold lesson in the industry” in later media appearances. Frankie J and DJ Kane, the lead singers, went on to have successful solo careers. In the other side, Andrew “Baby Drew” Maes, Alex Ramirez, Roy Ramirez, and Frankie Aranda formed K1 (or Kingz 1) and debuted with Nuestro Turno (2004), on which they went to great measures to give comprehensive composition credits, giving everyone their due.
Quintanilla reassembled, literally, without any lead singers or much of a band, hiring a new lead vocalist, Pee Wee González (born Irvin Salinas), as well as many other substitute musicians. Chris Pérez, previously the guitarist of Los Dinos, and Abel Talamantez, formerly a vocalist in later-day Menudo, were among them.
Quintanilla revealed a few songs produced with the new Kumbia Kings band on Los Remixes 2.0 (2004), another collection intended to buy more time. Pee Wee’s first song, “Sabes a Chocolate,” which had been a success for Menudo, was released as a single. Quintanilla revealed his new Kumbia Kings in detail a few months later on Fuego (2004), which included a few of guest appearances from Belinda (“Quien”) and Noel Schajris of Sin Bandera (“Parte de Mi Corazón”).
Pee Wee’s “Na Na Na (Dolce Nia),” a star-making smash that had a lengthy shelf life and captured the hearts of a legion of young girls, ended up stealing the show. Apart from Quintanilla, the 16-year-old heartthrob became the new face of Los Kumbia Kings as he continued to “present” the group.
Unsurprisingly, several gap-fillers began to appear on store shelves one after the other. Duetos (2005) mined the back catalog for any guest-feature collaborations that hadn’t already been compiled on the previous two best-ofs: “No Tengo Dinero,” with Juan Gabriel and El Gran Silencio;
“Reggae Kumbia,” Vico C; “Mi Gente,” Ozomatli; “Fuiste Mala,” Ricardo Muoz of Intocable; “Llévame al Cielo,” Aleks Unsurprisingly, a few new songs were added to attract anybody who wasn’t interested in the previously available material: two excellent Selena remakes, “Baila Esta Cumbia” and “I Could Fall in Love,” as well as “Don’t Cry Mama,” a sorrowful homage co-written by Ricardo Montaner. Fuego was subsequently repackaged as a CD/DVD just in time for the Christmas shopping season. It also included a live rendition of “Na Na Na (Dolce Nia)” for Pee Wee’s fans, as well as the stray hits “Sabes a Chocolate” and “Baila Esta Cumbia.”
The singles’ videos are included on the DVD. As if that wasn’t enough, the Kumbia Kings Live CD/DVD was released in 2006, featuring the new ensemble playing old classics.
On the surface, everything seemed to be going swimmingly, with Kumbia Kings Live earning a Latin Grammy for Best Tropical Regional Mexican Album and Pee Wee poised to take over as the group’s new celebrity attraction. The facts are murky, and no doubt twisted, but the short version is that a feud erupted between Quintanilla and Cruz Martinez, the only remaining members of the original Kumbia Kings lineup, and it appeared to boil down to a money dispute, as both argued their cases on Univision’s Cristina, hurling derogatory accusations at each other (even Martin).
As a result, Quintanilla quit Los Kumbia Kings — yep, the group he had “presented” on record after album — and formed his own band, Kumbia All Starz, which included Pee Wee and Pérez, as well as composer Luigi Giraldo, leaving the remaining Kumbia Kings to Martinez. Quintanilla launched his new group with Ayer Fue Kumbia Kings, Hoy Es Kumbia All Starz (2006), a brief album that included a new, radio-ready Pee Wee song, “Chiquilla,” in four different versions.
Quintanilla had sparked additional headlines around the same time, this time with an inflammatory YouTube video. The video was brief, presumably shot on a mobile phone at an airport in Mexico City, and it shows Quintanilla ranting about the security there, concluding his tirade with the deadly phrase, “f*cking Mexicans!” (too, he drops the “N” bomb, in reference to himself, though no one seemed offended by that).
It didn’t take long for the Mexican television media to pick up the footage, add translations, and broadcast it, spreading a great deal of animosity against Quintanilla on behalf of his forefathers’ homeland. Mexico’s ANDA organization (Asociación Nacional de Actores de México) requested an apology, while a number of Mexican-American artists, notably the well-known and prominent norteo group Los Tigres del Norte, spoke out against the event.
The ill will was so strong that the Kumbia All Starz were booed off the stage at a performance in Monterrey, Mexico. Quintanilla did apologize for his remark, but the public was not sympathetic, particularly given the many previous allegations of poor character leveled against him. In any case, the issue didn’t seem to have a negative impact on sales in the United States, as Ayer Fue Kumbia Kings, Hoy Es Kumbia All Starz reached number two, “Chiquilla” remained on the singles list for months, and young ladies continued to profess their love for Pee Wee.
Los Kumbia Kings is a Mexican band that has been around since the early 1990s. The band has released many hit songs, including La Bamba. Reference: kumbia all starz members.
Frequently Asked Questions
What was the Kumbia Kings first song?
The Kumbia Kings first song was El Baile del Pecado which was released in 1994.
Who wrote songs for Kumbia Kings?
The Kumbia Kings are a Mexican band. They have released many albums, and many of their songs have been used in movies and TV shows. It is unknown who wrote the majority of the songs for them.
Are the Kumbia Kings related to Selena?
Yes, they are both Mexican singers.