Dig through your parents’ music collection, and chances are you’ll find yourself mesmerized by the bold stylings and vibrant aesthetics of their cumbia sonidera CDs. The genre has always commanded a next-level confidence, from the in-your-face logos, to the flyest outfit coordination, truly unpredictable poses, and the hardest group formations. That confidence isn’t strictly reserved for the genre’s visuals either; the same energy is present in the music itself, with commanding taglines like Grupo Kual’s “el poder de la cumbia en México,” or Los Daddys de Chinantla’s “los jefes de la cumbia.”
While you were trying to figure out how to be cool all throughout your youth, all along, the answer was in your parent’s stereo. Cumbia sonidera grupos were really out here teaching us how to stunt for free. The original fit gods of our youth, the grupos of cumbia sonidera steady provided bops for the whole emotional spectrum, producing the most danceable sadboy/sadgirl/sadgente bangers to the most bumpin’ love songs. Next time you find yourself struggling to get the homies in formation for a squad flick or if you’re just tryna plot the look for your second cousin’s quince so you can spit game to the other side of her family, reference this retrospective of very steezy cumbia sonidera covers.
Super Grupo Colombia - “Auténticos Embajadores De La Cumbia” (1999)
Before your emotionally distant skater mcm was tucking his T-shirt into his double cuffed Dickies and arguing with resellers for a lower price on box logos, cumbia OGs Super Grupo Colombia pulled up with this all-white, tucked T-shirt look on the 1999 cover of Auténticos Embajadores De La Cumbia. Remaining steady in the game since ’77, Super Grupo Colombia took a break from the conventional suited-up look to bring you this low-key cover. I’ma need that Super Grupo Colombia box logo tee; who got the plug?
Los Ángeles Azules - “Una Lluvia De Rosas” (1999)
From your parents’ stereo to Coachella 2018, Los Ángeles Azules have steady provided the soundtrack for bautizos to house cleaning sessions since the 80s. With a resurgence in the 2010s thanks to the help of Toy Selectah and Camilo Lara, Los Ángeles Azules is bound to tap a new generation of cumbierxs for decades to come. On this 1999 cover for Una Lluvia De Rosas, the group pulled up in their Sunday best, top button steeze y todo with a tasteful play on fabrics.
Aaron Y Su Grupo Ilusión - “Con Sentimiento” (2001)
Aaron Y Su Grupo Ilusión has been putting out beautiful music since I was born, most notably 2000’s “Todo Me Gusta de Ti.” The cover to 2001’s Con Sentimiento… definitely falls on the more subtle side of looks on this list, but let me tell you — jewelry over the turtleneck commands a certain level of respect. Every haircut on this cover would make your abuelita proud, so next time you pull up to the barbershop just show your barber this cover and let him have his pick. I’ma need the photographer responsible for this cover to shoot my family portrait, white turtlenecks and all.
Los Socios del Ritmo - "Amor por Internet" (2002)
Los Socios del Ritmo brought you top 5 sadgente bop “Llorar” along with pre-video chat Internet love song “Amor Por Internet,” featured on their eponymous 2002 album. Six years before Soulja Boy was asking his shorty to kiss him through the phone, Los Socios Del Ritmo were out here longing to feel their shorties through the Internet. Peep the video to see alternate colorways of the overalls featured on this cover and to peep shorty trying to chat with her mans on a Microsoft Word document.
Los Telez - "Los Telez, Vol. 2" (2004)
For their 2004 hits compilation, Los Telez dismantled the tradition of a singular grupo uniform fit, instead bringing you well, this. I’ve never seen a group of people navigate so many different aesthetics at once; somewhere between tropigoth, cybergoth, and your sobrino’s bautizo afterparty. To be honest, there’s so much going on here I don’t even know where to begin. All I know is that between the red hair, the selection of frames, the flame converse and homie with the fedora on T.I. tilt, this is the kind of energy I’m tryna pull up to every function with the homies.
Grupo Kual - “Los Reyes De La Cumbia” (2005)
I’ma keep it a stack with you – these fits ain’t even all that compared to the rest of this list, but I couldn’t leave out cumbia royalty. Featuring what are easily the best drops, from “el poder de la cumbia en México” to “abuelita, soy tu nieto y ya llegué,” Dinastia Pedraza poster boys Grupo Kual have cemented their status in cumbia sonidera history. If you never hurt your shorty’s feelings and sent her the link to “Amor Regresa Ya,” were you ever really in love to begin with?
Los Yes Yes - “Grandes Éxitos” (2006)
I’ve never met a shorty with green eyes, but you know your boy got a playlist with Los Yes Yes’ “El Verde de Tus Ojos” on repeat for an hour waiting for her. Here the grupo poses for the greatest hits compilation album in pyramid formation, with enough shine to outdo your tío’s jewelry collection.
Grupo Karos - “Fuego Y Amor” (2007)
Are you really confident in your craft if you don’t incorporate “fuego” into the title of your work? These poblanos, bringing nothing but the sonidera slaps since ’96, said “fuck a review” and put five stars under their grupo logo from the jump. The amount of unbuttoned buttons on this cover alone, paired with the classic leather jacket — you’re not on this level if your squat ain’t this composed, take notes.
Los Daddys de Chinantla - “Solo Exitos” (2014)
The fittingly self-proclaimed “los jefes de la cumbia” Los Daddys de Chinantla are fronted by New York native and born again poblano Chucho Ponce. This first compilation of Ponce’s best tracks features a cover with Los Daddys stunting in custom white & pink jackets with the pants to match. You can catch other custom threads for the grupo in this Chinantla-dedicated bop.
Chicos Aventura - “Mia” (2017)
Like the Young Thugs or the Andre 3000s of cumbia, Chicos Aventura were never ones to shy away from a flamboyant fit. Known for hits such as their cover of repressed colonization complex anthem “Spanish Girl” or poblana-loving ballad “Angeles de Puebla,” 2017 saw a repackaging of Chicos Aventura’s hits, along with a rework of the cover to 2005 compilation Esa Niña, Lluvia, la Cita y Muchos Mas… For a better look at these fierce fits in 360p, peep the videos for “Te Amo,” and “Mia.”