On New EP ‘Mi Verdad,’ Natanael Cano Continues Writing Corrido Urbano’s Story

Lead Photo: Photo courtesy of Rancho Humilde
Photo courtesy of Rancho Humilde
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With his raw and irreverent approach to traditional corridos delivered with an urbano aesthetic, 2019 breakout star Natanael Cano is catapulting regional Mexican music into the future. Freshly off releasing his second full-length Corridos Tumbados, and a month after disrupting the urbano and regional Mexican landscape with the quintessential trap corrido hybrid “Soy el Diablo (Remix)” alongside Bad Bunny, Natanael Cano returns with a vengeance on Mi Verdad: Corridos Tumbados EP.

In fact, the 18-year-old Hermosillo native is the frontrunner of a new wave of urbano regional Mexican music players that are reinventing the corrido – a cinematic kind of folk ballad that gained popularity along the U.S.-Mexico border during the Mexican Revolution – for the Millennial and Zoomer generations. And Mi Verdad is a testament of Cano’s evolving and winning combination he calls corridos tumbados – a style he invented along with his homie Dan Sanchez. Its wide appeal is largely due to its embodiment of the trap style: unflinchingly crude lyrics, fierce vocal delivery that matches with hip-hop’s conviction, and the favoring of trap clothing gear over the genre’s usual cowboy hat and pointy boots. For instance, the new EP’s artwork features an animation of him rocking a Bape hoodie.

A sort of spin-off to his previous full-length, this six-track EP selects cuts from his new yet already prolific career. Though half of songs have been re-recorded, together they help explain the narrative to his creative breakthrough. Packing in heady lyrics delivered with a no-holds-barred assurance, intro-track “El de la Codeina” is a purp paean about a malandro who sips lean. With his guitar in hand, Cano performed the song for label founder and CEO of Rancho Humilde Records, Jimmy Humilde earlier this year, after which Humilde immediately signed him. The urbano regional Mexican label is based in Los Angeles and houses genre-defying bands like Herencia de Patrones, Legado 7 and Arsenal Efectivo.

Though signing to Rancho Humilde this year elevated his star to further prominence, Cano had already attained buzz in the underground of his hometown in Sonora. He possessed a handful of singles under his buckle with the indie imprint Five Music in 2018. Earlier this year, the Mexican prodigy also released his first full-length, tuba-powered Todo Es Diferente, where “El de la Codeina” first appeared, featuring fellow corrido star Ruben Figueroa.

With Rancho Humilde, he re-recorded the track live with Herencia de Patron and Los Hijos de Garcia, who lend their verses and back him up with guitars, a stand-up bass, tuba and accordion. The YouTube video racked up two million views in its first month, and Cano was therefore invited to perform the track as a guest star in the concerts of his fellow labelmates. To date, the clip clocked in at nearly 44 million views since its April release.

This time on Mi Verdad, Cano ditches the tubas and accordions in favor of a guitar and a 12-string that stay true to the sierreño format, a regional style that first grew in popularity in the ‘80s in Sinaloa, but was later globalized a few years back in the hands of Ariel Camacho y Los Plebes del Rancho. Cano is in fact self-taught and learned to play guitar at age 13 by watching YouTube tutorials. The first song he learned was “El Karma” by the late sierreño legend Camacho, who died in a fatal car crash at age 22 in 2015. Cano is one among a slew of trap corrido artists who were inspired to play an instrument through Camacho’s body of work.

Corridos verdes, another new trend within the regional Mexican music landscape, is performed in “El Griffindor,” a song that boasts cheeky stoner rhymes in true California-reefer spirit. Both that song and “Ahora Es Diferente,” the unabashed confession of his newfound fame, first appear in his debut album. This time, however, his heavy strums and nasally voice cut through with the confidence of a new star who’s arrived to shatter the music scene and reinvent his own proposal.

It’s a formula that is working quite well, and his charting releases are proof of his impact. Corridos Tumbados continues to remain on the peak position of Billboard’s Regional Mexican Music Album charts since it debuted two weeks ago, and the bare-bones “El Nayer” and “Iniciales AL” pop up both here and on the new EP, which he released via La R Records. Through insatiable guitar licks and biting commentary about a delinquent lifestyle, this brilliant debauchee never misses a beat on Mi Verdad. Instead, he induces thrilling and chilling moments with his menacing countrified approach. With just two steel-string guitars and Cano’s high-pitched, unbothered vocal chops, Cano is raising corridos tumbados to avant-garde grandeur that is punishing, profane and completely exhilarating.

Stream ‘Mi Verdad’ here: