If hip-hop is "the CNN of the streets" (a term coined by Public Enemy leader Chuck D), one could argue that corridos serve as a CNN of Mexican concerns. Corridos have been addressing Mexican concerns for generations, and in recent decades, plenty of norteño and banda artists have had a lot to say about drug trafficking in Mexico and the southwestern part of the United States. Narcocorridos are controversial, but they're also informative; between narcocorridos and the nightly newscasts on Univision and Telemundo, there has been no shortage of Spanish-language information on all the violence that has surrounded the Mexican drug trade. And when it comes to providing narcocorridos, los Tucanes de Tijuana have been excelling since the ‘90s. They haven't been at it as long as los Tigres del Norte, but they're certainly experts -- and their proficiency with narcocorridos is alive and well on Retro-Corridos. This 2009 release isn't quite as strong as the excellent Propiedad Privada (one of the best narcocorrido discs of 2008), but it's certainly a solid outing. Although los Tucanes haven't been performing narcocorridos exclusively -- they have recorded an abundance of rancheras as well -- narcocorridos dominate this 52-minute CD. And once again, listeners are reminded what compelling and gritty storytellers they can be. "El Promoter de Box," for example, is about a boxing promoter who is also a drug trafficker, and "Masacre en Vallarta" describes a showdown between rival drug cartels. Drug-related violence in Mexico is becoming increasingly bloody in the late 2000s, and Retro-Corridos doesn't sugarcoat the problem. There is no shortage of grit on Retro-Corridos, which falls short of essential, but is still an engaging addition to los Tucanes' catalog.
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AllMusic Review by Alex Henderson