Explosion Nortena video posting from YouTube
This year’s drug-related violence along the border has brought another round of public attacks against “narco corridos,” those peppy accordion tunes about the exploits of drug traffickers.
In an article today, The Los Angeles Times detects declining interest in “narco corridos,” perhaps as people view the songs as trivializing the bad behavior of thugs with drugs. In the case of some of these groups, as the story notes, art and life is also getting entangled in messy ways.
I once interviewed Alberto Cervantes Nieto, the lead singer of Explosion Nortena, for a story on these groups. Nieto wrote songs about the region’s Arellano Felix drug cartel members. He used code names and references to events that the average person wouldn’t understand, and he told me he got his inspiration from newspaper articles about the cartel. A year later, he was detained by Mexican federal officers when he was found at a Tijuana seafood restaurant with suspected Arellano Felix members.
I often wonder how and why people end up in the company of the cartel and I think the answers are as complex as human nature. The crazy thing is that I actually got hooked on Explosion Nortena’s songs – they kept on buzzing in my head for months after I wrote about the group.