NarcoCorridos: The Soundtrack To the Drug World

We all know about gangster rap, a music genre that originated among the African American community in Compton, LA. This genre talks about drugs, guns, money, and the gang life that this community unfortunately faced at the time and is still facing today. But gangster rap is not the only genre that reveals to us this dark world: NarcoCorridos is a relatively new Mexican music genre that also speaks to the troubles of a community suffering from vice.

Corridos are songs that tell stories about influential people, and although they are mostly popular in Mexico, they are also heard in Central America, and even in some South American countries. These songs used to focus on heroic people like Pancho Villa, and Emiliano Zapata, but as crime has evolved in Mexico, so did the corridos.

Now these songs celebrate people like el Chapo Guzmán, el MZ, and many more. These crime figures are actually seen as heroes in the places they come from. In el Chapo and el MZ’s case, they are heroes in their home state Sinaloa. They are seen as Robin Hoods, so people love them. In fact, the day el Chapo was captured, there was a huge protest in Culiacan (Sinaloa’s capital city) demanding his release. That is why they have corridos dedicated to them, because having one of these songs dedicated to you is considered to be a really big honor.


The genre “NarcoCorrido” started hitting the tracks in the 1980’s with large crime figures like Neto Letran, Amado Carrillo, and Rafael Caro Quintero. During this time, the first generation of singers started this genre, and they had traditional sounds. Although the lyrics are now different, they still followed the traditional beat to what a corrido originally sounded like. Also, during this time, the singers wore cowboy hats and boots, because that is what the drug lords would also wear at the time.

As the drug trade in Mexico and the rest of Latin America started evolving, and the crime figures started changing, so did the style of music. There was a new litter of drug lords, and they came to be known as the “Narco Juniors”. These were the sons of the old crime bosses, and this new generation needed their corridos, and here is when the “movimiento alterado” style corridos where born.

These new corridos had a faster beat to them, and they had more explicit lyrics, since they were in more modern times. Artists like El Komander were born, and he is listened to not only in Mexico, but in all of Latin America.

Also the style of clothing among the artists changed. Drug lords were no longer seen as cowboys, but with designer clothing. Instead of snip-toe boots, Ivan Guzman (El Chapo’s son) wears gucci loafers; instead of driving a lifted f250, he drives a Ferrari. This obviously had an impact on the artists, and they started dressing the same way. Singers started celebrating luxury, nights of partying, guns, essentially the everyday lives of these people.


This genre talks about this topic very explicitly. It tells us about the everyday lives of these people, and most of the time, they are based on facts. NarcoCorridos truly are the soundtrack to the world of drugs.





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