The only award show that celebrates the best in regional Mexican music, Premios de la Radio, touched down in Dallas, TX last week. For the special 20th anniversary, EstrellaTV made sure to highlight one of the latest movements happening within the genre, the rise of corridos urbanos. Young stars leading the wave — like Adriel Favela, T3R Elemento, Fuerza Regida and Natanael Cano — were invited to perform, and some of them took home the top prizes. Remezcla was there to talk with them about their music being recognized and starting to be taken seriously by their industry peers.

Walking down the purple carpet with more traditional regional Mexican music acts like Banda MS and Christian Nodal, were Fuerza Regida and Cano dressed down yet still stylish with icy chains and leather and Louis Vuitton jackets – a stark contrast from the corrido stars of the past. “We’re young,” Fuerza Regida’s frontman Jesus Ortiz-Paz says. “We dress like how they are. We dress and sing about what the young people like and that’s why everyone identifies with the music.”

With Latin music becoming more global this past decade, genres have been evolving and blending together. That’s something that happened with the classic Mexican corrido – meeting kids with a taste for trap music. Instead of the dilemmas on the rancho, it’s become about Gen-Z’s struggles, hustles, and party culture. “It’s what we see in the streets and where we come from,” says Ortiz-Paz, who was born in California’s Inland Empire. “I’m real,” adds Favela, another Mexican-American singer. “I’m straight out the cut. I’m talking about what I’ve lived day by day.”

Favela sings about never being a fan of school on “La Escuela No Me Gustó” while drinking up with his “homeboys” and handling guns and wads of cash in the music video. “I’m never giving a bad message,” he says. “You guys better go to school!” On “Aerolinea Carrillo,” T3R Elemento’s Kristopher Nava tells the story of an airline that transports weed and cocaine with Gerardo Ortiz. That song is from the band’s album fittingly titled The Green Trip.

“We talk about plant,” Las Vegas native Nava says. “You know, marijuana. I consume it. It’s not anything bad, but I don’t tell people or kids to do it. I just sing about it because I like the feeling of the music. It gives more vibes to me as well.”

With smashing Billboard’s regional Mexican music charts, the guys are also doing damage on the Hot Latin Songs chart alongside the superstar reggaetoneros. The corridos urbanos are pulling in millions of views on YouTube, and that is thanks to the audience they’ve amassed on social media. “My fans put me out here,” Nava says. “I’m out here representing not just myself but my fans and the people that follow me.”

Even with the big numbers they’re hitting in terms of streaming and concert sales, the Latin music industry that they’re a part of has taken some time to warm up to their movement. “A lot of people were saying that we’re going to ruin music, but on the contrary, people are looking up our stuff and new things are coming from it,” says Mexican singer Cano. Something new that recently happened that he admits “no one expected” was trapero Bad Bunny hopping on a remix of his song “Soy El Diablo.

“I think they’re starting to understand what we’re giving in this new wave, which is why they are looking at us and trying to collaborate,” says Favela. Premios de la Radio is known for highlighting the subgenres of regional Mexican music like banda, norteño, and mariachi. This year, EstrellaTV introduced the corridos urbanos category while dedicating a section of the show to live performances from the guys.

Rancho Humilde and Del Records, the two powerhouse labels in corridos urbanos were well represented with their rosters that night. Del Records’ Abraham Vazquez and T3R Elemento performed “Malagradecidos” and “En Boca de Todos” respectively while Rancho Humilde’s Herencia de Patrones, Legado 7, and Fuerza Regida joined forces for “Cosas de La Clica” live. “Make some motherfucking noise, Dallas!” yelled Ortiz-Paz to the crowd of his peers.

Herencia de Patrones won the award From Social Media to Radio, Fuerza Regida took home Sierreño Group or Artist of the Year, and Cano became the very first winner in the inaugural Best Urban Corrido category for “El de la Codeína,” his party anthem about lean. In the Corrido of the Year category up against some traditional corridos, T3R Elemento showed that times are changing when they picked up the prize for “Aerolinea Carrillo.”

To receive this recognition in the industry, the guys have been putting in a lot of work. “We’ve been working so hard,” says Favela. “It’s been non-stop. No sleeping. No family birthdays. At the end of the day, I think everything has its reward.” Cano adds, “We’re here representing corridos tumbados. We’re raising up our empire and looking to what’s next.”

Expect corridos urbanos to evolve as they become more accepted and reach wider audiences. “We’re looking forward to doing something with reggaeton, but we still haven’t found anybody that wants to do something,” Nava says. “I’m going to experiment with genres that I like,” Cano says after his Bad Bunny collaboration. “Never with anything that I don’t like.”

Favela is very enthusiastic about the future of the movement. “In this moment there are cultures mixing like never seen before,” he says. “I see the cultures mixing even more. Maybe fucking Anuel AA collaborating with someone. It would be beautiful, bro. At the end of the day, we’re Latin. We’re Latin people fighting against everything in the world, so we have to unite.”