The last of the rebels is gone.

Celso Piña was not a typical music star. He was the last of the underdogs. An idol who came from the barrio, to the

barrio, and later on, to the world. Through local songs that talked about very specific things from his community, he sent a universal message. In the end, we all laugh, cry ... and dance.

The legacy Celso left is really important. He let rich people know there is a vast culture in poor Mexican neighborhoods. He was a proud ambassador of his beloved Barrio Independencia.

Celso was more punk than any punk I've ever known. He went on experimental escapades with pop artists, hip-hop, electronica and all sorts of sounds. He was the architect of Nu-Cumbia, creating the seminal song "Cumbia Sobre el Rio," mixing traditional cumbia and hot and exciting electronic beats.

He was the crystal ball announcing cumbia was going to be (once again) THE music for kids looking for answers. He was the soundtrack of the new counterculture.

Gabriel García Márquez called him El Acordeonista de Hamelin (the accordion player of Hamelin). Celso was a unifier. His music was the true meaning of democracy: no matter if you were old, young, fat, skinny, tall or short, you would certainly dance to his music.

I've always wanted to be like Celso. An outsider, a rebel. Someone proud of his roots but with his eyes on the future. Now he is next to all my idols. Strummer, Marley, Malcolm McClaren, Augustus Pablo.

One thing I know for sure: his music made this world a little better place. Those of us that knew him will remember him as a generous teacher and friend.


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