Los Tigres del Norte

Corridos Prohibidos

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Corrido themes have changed with the times, but the popular Mexican ballad's function has remained the same: recounting events, from the seemingly mundane to the historically significant. Corridos have portrayed the exploits of border heroes like Gregorio Cortez, leaders of the Mexican Revolution, Chiapas rebels, racehorses, Osama bin Laden, and even Bill Clinton and Monica Lewinsky. Focused on drug trafficking in Mexico, the narcocorrido has emerged as a popular subgenre, with los Tigres del Norte among its pioneers. Although los Tigres weren't the first to sing narcocorridos (and corridos about smuggling date back to the 19th century), their 1972 record "Contrabando y Traición" was a pivotal release that inspired countless chroniclers of the badass narco lifestyle. Corridos Prohibidos contained some of their most memorable narco-themed songs and was one of their biggest hits. These bouncy, accordion-driven polkas might sound tame to non-Spanish speakers, but Jorge Hernández sings about gunfights with the police, treachery, retribution, and violent machismo. With its narrative enhanced by innovative (for the genre) sound effects, "La Camioneta Gris" tells of a drug-running couple's flight from los federales and their death under a train. "El Zorro de Ojinaga" concerns Pablo Acosta, who, in addition to funding hospitals and helping the poor, supplied one third of U.S. cocaine in the '80s and died in an FBI-assisted bust. While los Tigres depict modern outlaws, they also provide a sobering account of their legacy: "La Mafia Muere" paints a grim picture of Sinaloa after years of drug-related violence. Indeed, los Tigres have long displayed a social conscience; that's clearest here on "El Gato Félix," a corrido eulogizing Héctor Félix Miranda, the murdered Tijuana journalist renowned for denouncing corruption. Los Tigres' narcocorridos aren't as graphic as those of some of their followers, but Corridos Prohibidos shows why they're considered architects of the genre.

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