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Popular Italian pop stars born of organized crime

By VBS staff
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Musicians born of organized crime
  • Music genre known as neomelodics emerges from the Camorra crime syndicate
  • Sound is mix of techno, pop and Latin American music; tells tales of love, crime and loss
  • Neomelodic musicians play up to 700 shows a year and are hugely popular in community

Editor's note: The staff at has recently been intrigued by the journalism of Vice, an independent media company and Web site based in Brooklyn, New York. VBS.TV is Vice's broadband television network. The reports, which are produced solely by Vice, reflect a very transparent approach to journalism, where viewers are taken along on every step of the reporting process. We believe this unique reporting approach is worthy of sharing with our readers.

Brooklyn, New York (VBS.TV) -- Ask any Italian what pops into their head when they think of Naples, and you'll almost assuredly get the same three things every time: pizza, garbage in the streets and the most powerful international crime syndicate in the world -- the Camorra.

In the past 30 years, this organization rose to be valued at around 10% of the aggregated wealth of the Italian nation. The Camorra not only deals in illegal activities such as drugs and weapons trafficking, contraband and extortion, but additionally controls a huge amount of legal, straight businesses -- especially in transport, construction and waste management, as well as in pretty much any economic sphere in which they find an opportunity to invest.

It is relentlessly capitalistic, has destroyed an entire city and is probably the largest criminal emergency in Europe. It is certainly the biggest organization in the southern Italian criminal underground. Within this reality, one distinctive music genre rose to prominence over the last two decades: neomelodics.

Neomelodic music is a strange mixture of techno, pop, Latin American music and traditional Neapolitan love songs. It's an entirely singular and totally bizarre form of music that, its detractors and critics say, is generally performed by nothing more than ex-criminals who have become Camorra minstrels.

See the rest of Neapolitan neomelodics at VBS.TV

Bred in the Camorra-ridden, corrupt and generally all-around despairingly sad working-class underbelly of Naples, this army of singers tells stories of love found and lost, the crime that surrounds them, dreams of success and escape and running away from the law.

Ranging in age from 8 to 80, the neomelodics play up to 700 gigs in a year, including weddings and birthday parties, sometimes the biggest events in a Neapolitan's life.

Although they are hugely popular in their community, they often dream of entering the music charts on a national level, but their association to the Camorra has kept them from the mainstream. Perhaps this next generation of Neomelodic singers is about to change all of that.