Being born to a Mexican mother, from Monterrey to be exact, I grew up listening to everybody from Los Tigres Del Norte, to Los Cardenales (my all-time favorites) to El Poder Del Norte. It wasn’t really until we moved to Monterrey for a year following my parents divorce, did I fully begin to appreciate Norteños. That being said, as proud as I was of my background, listening to this music in front of my friends wasn’t always something I flaunted, or necessarily even wanted them to know I liked. It’s not that I was embarrassed, but I almost felt like I was being too Mexican if I played El Celular or Si Yo Fuera El in public.
Fast-forward to my adult-life and up until recently, I still had the same sentiments. That is, until I heard my now ex-boyfriend listening to corridos while he showered:
“Guacha tus amigos cuales son los real/Me fijo en detalles y cual va traicionar”
“Look out for your real friends/ I pay attention to details and who’s gonna betray me”
As the trumpets and trombones blared through the bathroom door, I thought to myself “is this guy low-key singing about snitchin’?” Nah, couldn’t be. It almost reminded me of the verse on “Get Throwed” where Pimp C says “Watch your paper/Guard your life/Cause most of these niggas aint livin’ right.” It was in that moment, for the first time ever, that I began making the correlation between the trap music that has become ever so popular in today’s music, and the Spanish music that I grew up listening to, but tried to repress.
I waited for my ex to hop out the shower and asked him who he was listening to. “El Fantasma,” (The Ghost) he replied. The name of the song was “Vengo A Aclarar”, he told me. Even though I felt like I was being too mexican listening to the Banda music that I was forced to listen to in that relationship, I immediately started googling El Fantasma and thought, let me give this guy a listen and see if he’s talking about what I think. Afterall, according to Mexican media, he’s being considered “The King of The Underground” kind of like my favorite rap duo UGK. I remember scrolling down to see that Vengo A Aclarar had garnered over 20 million views on youtube and a few clicks later, I stumbled across this song called Los Corridones and the opening verse absolutely confirmed exactly what I thought he was singing about… Trappin’.
“Con porte de caballero/Cien por ciento traficante/Esta noche me la rifo/La suerte voy a jugarme/Pal intercambio de drogas cargo mis dos celulares”
“Drug Dealer in a suit/Tonight I’m pushing my luck/Carrying my 2 cellphones to exchange dope”
“Hold up,” I thought. “This dude is really talking about how he’s the plug with 2 cellphones.” Literally all that ran through my head as I kept listening to this song was Kevin Gates in the background singing “I got two phones, one for the plug and one for the load,” lol.
Los Corridones continued playing on, and after a verse where El Fantasma flamboyantly talks about growing and harvesting weed, he goes on to use the word “Kush” in a thick Spanish accent sounding more like “Koosh”. All I can remember was laughing out loud and asking myself “Did he really just use the word Kush?” The answer is yes, he really used the word kush, and yes, he’s really singing about being the plug.
Over the past year, I really grew to like El Fantasma’s music… So much so, that I was halfway from south Texas to catch a show in Dallas (a 6 hour drive for those not familiar with just how big Texas is) when I was scrolling through my Instagram and saw the words that I was dreading… SOLD OUT. Honestly, I had no idea that this guy had gotten so popular that he had just sold out one of the bigger live music venues in Dallas. Nonetheless, I was disappointed that I hadn’t purchased tickets sooner, and even more disappointed that I couldn’t just call anybody to get me in because frankly, nobody I knew besides my ex-boyfriend even knows who he is… Just yet.
The correlation between El Fantasma’s music and the trap music that many first-generation American kids like myself grew up on, and still listen to, is this… It’s the same come-up story of humble beginnings, the hard-work that goes into getting ahead, and finally, being able to provide a better life for your family, all awhile trying to stay out of prison.
I realized that in my recent transition from thinking that listening to Banda or Norteños made me “too Mexican”, that it actually gave me something to talk about with my friends while trying to explain why I was driving 6 hours to try and catch a sold out show that I never even got to see. “He’s like… The king of the trap,” I remember saying to my homegirl over the phone when I was telling her that I wasn’t going to make it into Dallas, “Except he’s like the real king of the trap.” “Oh,” I remember her saying… “What’s his name again?”
“El Fantasma,” I replied.
Click Below to Watch a snippet of El Fantasma’s Sold Out Show in Dallas, TX: