Jenni Rivera


The first song Jenni Rivera composed was "La Chacalosa," the story of a drug trafficker's daughter who decides to go into the business: "They search for me as chacalosa / I'm a drug trafficker's daughter / I know the scene well / I was raised in mafia big as hell," the song began. It was her frist narcocorrido, or drug-trade-related ballad. And she write it to show her father she could create the same kinds of songs he was promoting through Cintas Acuario, his record label.

Pedro Rivera, Jenni's father, discovered in the traditional Mexican corrido--and especially in the narcocorrido--a rich streak that with time would take his entire family out of poverty. His frist artists were Chalino Sanchez (assasinated in Mexico in 1992 during a drug-related episode) and El Chapo de Sinaloa (a popular singer not related to the now-infamous drug lord but born, like he was, in Badiraguato, Sinaloa).

It was diffcult not to have contact in their social circles where drug was trafficked. Jenni's father and her brother, Lupillo, declared their admiration for El Senor de los Cielos in a recent Univision documentary. But Jenni not only rejected any private performance--in order to avoid scandal--she was also very clear in explaining the reason behind the narcocorridos. "I became a singer because I am a businesswoman. I was a business child, then a business teenager, and finallly, a business woman. No other woman was doing it, so I knew I could dominate the market."

That statement, which Jenni gave Gustavo Arellano, perfecting sums up what would become her main drive, and what would lead her to triumph not only as a singer, but also as a central figure in the Latin world of entertainment (and not in the Anglo one because life did not permit the crossover she had planned on the moment of her death).

Leila Cobo, director of programming and Latino content for Billboard, wrote one of the most widely read books about Jenni.

"Jenni felt very comfortable singing about the subjects men were singing about (the narcocorrido was a very small part of what she did). She felt at ease singing about daring themes. She felt very comfortable singing to women. And she was very comfortable in her own skin. But she was also very smart, and she realized very quickly no one else was doing it--and so there she went," said Leila Cobo to La Huella Digital.

"When I saw that my life provoked interest or intrigue among television people, I thought, 'I am going to use my name my way.' My name is used in many ways by many people, so then the best way to employ the name of Jenni Rivera is to be the businesswoman I am and say, 'I am going to produce television programs, I will have a clothing line, I will create fragances, I will have my own radio program,'" said Jenni during the Billboard Latin-music conference in April 2012.

Jenni felt like "bisera" (Spanglish for businessman), as she stated during many occaisions to Maria Antonieta Collins. "I keep thinking I'm a better businesswoman than artist. Whether selling chewing gum in school or selling my grades and test answers in class, I was always selling something," she told Leila Cobo during an interview in 2012.

Despite having gotten pregnant for the first time at age 15 and having an impossible relationship relationship with the baby's father, Jenni Rivera never abandoned her studies and finally acquired a degree in business administration. Later she recalled, "My teacher at the business school told me, 'You must sell something, you must market something.' That's something that always stayed in my head. Never did I imagine that I would sell myself. Everything is the result of the music, but the business mind came before. The two joined up, and together we created an entertainer."

According to Liliana Escalante, none of the problems Jenni had to confront changed her business vision, which began very young while she was selling houses. "She knew how to invest well and how give a spin to obstacles and enemies, which were not few. It is calculated that in life she accumulated a fortune of more than twenty million dollars, and she managed everything so meticulously that currently she is one of the artists to generate the most income after death," said Escalante.

Almost all Jenni's business dreams were realized during her lifetime: her frangrance line, her line of jeans, her tequila brand, her radio program, her reality shows for television. But there were three left behind: her book, her boutique, and her leap inot the Anglo market. The first two have been accomplished after her death. The last, unfortunately, will never come to pass, although her artistic and business streaks seem to have been inherited by some of her children. But Jenni was Jenni, and she will be very difficult to duplicate.