The Narcocorrido Backlash

For more than a century, corridos have been a staple of popular Mexican music. With a waltz-like rhythm and lyrics focused on legends, romances, heroes, and villains of the rural frontier, corridos are a traditional storytelling genre. But in recent years, a subgenre called the “narcocorrido” has exploded in popularity, and its stories focus on the real-life exploits of drug traffickers and crime bosses. It’s the Mexican version of gangsta rap — graphic lyrics put to an accordion-driven beat.

This week, the Los Angeles Times had an interesting article on the backlash against narcocorridos in Tijuana. Whereas previous efforts to ban the music by local and national officials have failed, this movement seems to be bubbling up from music fans who have grown tired of a genre that celebrates the people terrorizing their community. According to the accordion player of Los Linces Boys, a band that grew famous for playing narcocorridos:

“Things are changing… It’s not like in the past, when people would hear corridos and shoot their guns in the air… Now, people would rather grab their girlfriends, squeeze close on the dance floor and kiss.”

Narcocorridos have become big sellers on both sides of the border, so it’s probably too soon to tell if this backlash will have lasting significance. I definitely recommend the LA Times article, though, as a good introduction to one of the darker, and certainly more dangerous, genres associated with the accordion.


  1. And if you haven’t read it yet, check out Elija Wald’s Narcocorrico book, which is an awesome telling of the development of the corrido form, the use of the accordion, the whole drug trafficking thing, and how, while there were 20,000 fans for a Tigres del Norte concert in town, the only “Latin” music event the LA Times chose to list was some fancy salsa club. This stuff has been so under the Anglo-culture radar they never even knew they’d want to ban it!

  2. The book had a companion CD but it’s sadly out of print.

    This record looks really good though. I have to get a copy for our radio show:

  3. Thanks Bruce! I forgot to mention the Wald book, which is probably the best resource on the world of narcocorridos. (Anyone who’s interested, you can buy it on Amazon.)