Even If You’re A Die-Hard Natanael Cano Fan, You May Not Know Corridos Tumbados’ Origin Story
Whether you’ve been a fan of Natanael Cano since his first album “Todo Es Diferente,” or are getting into Peso Pluma after hits like “La Bebé” and “77,” it’s safe to say corridos tumbados are taking over the airwaves.
While Spotify’s official “Corridos Tumbados” playlist is our Friday night go-to, songs like Eslabon Armado and Pluma’s “Ella Baila Sola” prove the genre is Speedy-Gonzalez-running straight to the top.
Even if you can recite every line to “AMG” by Cano and Pluma, you might not know corridos tumbados’ origins. In fact, although it brings in hip-hop and reggaetón influences, the genre is deeply rooted in Mexico’s history.
While corridos were pivotal during the Mexican Revolution, the “tumbados” part of the genre was born at the U.S.-Mexico border.
All about the revolutionary history behind Corridos
First, we should dive into Mexican corridos, which are songs that tell a story about a person or event. They were born sometime around the 19th century and became much more popular during the Mexican Revolution. Famous corridos like “La Toma de Zacatecas” retell fierce battles. Meanwhile, the iconic “La Adelita” honors the brave women that supported the war’s soldiers.
According to the BBC, corridos’ rhythm is rooted in polka songs from German and Polish immigrants to northern Mexico.
Still, corridos’ most crucial commodity is its storytelling. Mexican music critic Arturo Saucedo told the outlet, “News would spread through troubadours who played songs, telling people what happened in battle.”
The genre continued to evolve. For one, Sinaloan star Chalino Sánchez, known as “El Rey Del Corrido,” sang iconic songs like “El Sapo” and “Armando Sánchez” for audiences in Mexico and the U.S.
From the Mexican Revolution to Sánchez’s musical contributions before his mysterious murder, corridos never disappeared. Of course, another notable subgenre is narcocorridos, which tell stories related to Mexican drug cartels.
Still, corridos tumbados are a completely different animal. This much newer genre can be traced back to the mid-2010s, and was born when musicians blended traditional, storytelling corridors, with hip-hop influences.
The genesis of corridos tumbados
As Saucedo told BBC, “The peculiar border we have with the U.S., so culturally-rich, is the place where many music genres combine.”
He continued, “[The border] is where the first corridos tumbados came about,” describing them as “A combination of hip-hop with Mexican instruments.”
Hip-hop and corridos have similarities. They both emphasize poetry through rhyme and meter, have an important storytelling component and often sing about struggle — whether economic or personal.
By the 2010s, musicians began to blend corridos’ storytelling and its regional Mexican-style instruments with something more. Suddenly, the era ushered in corridos with hip-hop, trap and reggaeton, making something entirely new.
Interestingly, corridos tumbados took on the tradition of both Mexican Revolution corridos and hip-hop to tell stories about daily life, many times on the streets.
So who were some of the initial proponents? The first name that comes to mind is undoubtedly Natanael Cano, who was one of the first singers of corridos tumbados who really pushed the genre into the zeitgeist.
As explained by Rolling Stone, Cano was 18 when he became the purported king of corridos tumbados. Around 2019, the “El Drip” star rose through the charts by mixing trap with regional Mexican— something that many people had never even heard before.
The iconic tracks that brought corridos tumbados to the limelight
While many believe Cano is the G.O.A.T. when it comes to corridos tumbados, many more acts pushed the genre into the limelight.
There’s, of course, Guanajuato-native Junior H, whose Peso Pluma-assisted track “El Azul” is a must-listen. Another great track? “Disfruto Lo Malo” alongside Cano, where they sing about “Making dollar bills” and “Raffling their luck.”
Moreover, when discussing the birth of corridos tumbados, we can’t forget the late Ariel Camacho. Before his tragic death in 2015 at just 23 years old, the Guamúchil-born singer was building a foundation for all the corridos tumbados to come.
In fact, as explained by The Independent, he was a pioneer in combining two guitars and a tuba— instrumentation that later became a corridos tumbados signature.
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