Just hours after the news emerged that Mexican drug lord Joaquin “El Chapo” Guzmán had escaped from a maximum security prison, the first narcocorrido appeared online.
The artists who write and sing those ballads have been detailing the lifestyle of drug dealers in Mexico for decades. Their art and the lifestyle is so intertwined that many artists have been caught in the crossfire.
That’s why it’s no surprise that the story of El Chapo’s escape was memorialized in song immediately. After all, Guzmán’s life outside had been the stuff of legend: the world’s biggest drug dealer, who had flouted Mexico’s federal government for years and had slipped from federal authorities’ grip once before, in 2001.
The songs that have emerged since this weekend’s news revel in both the audacity of El Chapo’s prison break and the folly of the Mexican government.
For a news blog, that’s perhaps the most interesting part — that this musical expression points bluntly to collusion and to Mexico’s failure to run a government of law and order.
As many analysts have pointed out, the escape is a major embarrassment for President Enrique Peña Nieto, who in an interview with Univision after El Chapo was captured, said that allowing another escape would be “unforgivable.”
In one song released by Roman Padilla y Los Reyes de Sinaloa, they sing that at the prison in Altiplano, there’s a wake, but in Culiacán, at the center of Guzmán’s Sinaloa cartel empire, there’s a party. At the presidential palace, they sing, you can hear a “rabbit’s scream.”
The song continues:
“Jail isn’t for the powerful, so be careful. / If you think he got out through a tunnel, it’s what had been agreed to. / But however El Chapo escaped, he probably didn’t even mess up his hair.”
With that, here’s a roundup of a few more corridos that caught our ear. A disclaimer: We’ve translated some of the lyrics, but some of the musicality of the language has been lost:
Enigma Norteño released snippets of a song. One refrain has Guzmán issuing a threat: “To make it very clear, they just wanted to sink me, but they forgot about the code. / The ones I financed in the past, today they’re praying and others are thinking about running.”
It’s worth noting that a Mexican newspaper ran a piece saying that Enigma Norteño was celebrating Guzmán’s escape. The band refuted that claim in a Facebook post.
“We don’t deny that our lyrics allude to Chapo’s personality,” the band wrote. “But that doesn’t mean that we are benefiting or happy about his escape. That’s because our business has nothing to do with El Chapo’s business.”
Ariel Nuño, who is based in California, sings: “Money makes the dog dance / and today it danced again. … / Thank God I’m out of this prison. How short their glee was and I am free again.”
The band Rejegos sings: “You won’t believe how he did it / like a jailhouse gopher, he slipped through a tunnel. / But it’s well known El Chapo’s not one to be kept jailed. / This is his second escape. / The boss is back at his command. / The news has been confirmed. / El Chapo Guzmán is free.”
David Orozco sings: “I never did anything to the government. / So why do they bother so much? / I’m my people’s savior / I’m El Chapo Guzmán.”