In 2019, as Lil Nas X’s country-trap megahit “Old Town Road” spread like wildfire across the United States, Sonora-born singer-songwriter Natanael Cano was polishing off its regional Mexican analogue. By pairing traditional acoustic guitar with some cutting, hip-hop-inspired wordplay, Cano became one of several young artists championing a more streetwise style of corrido, a narrative Mexican folk ballad.
Under the influential East L.A. label Rancho Humilde, home to acts such as Fuerza Regida, 19-year-old Cano released his breakthrough 2019 album Corridos Tumbados (Remixed Corridos), which was named one of the year’s Best Latin Albums in IndieLand. Cano even snagged a coveted endorsement from Puerto Rican superstar Bad Bunny, who delivered a rugged remix of his devil-may-care corrido, “Soy El Diablo.” Cano shortly chased the album with two more releases, including his Mi Nuevo Yo EP and the 2020 sequel to Corridos Tumbados, which have shown sizable numbers on streaming platforms. On Spotify alone, Cano rakes in nearly five million listeners per month.
In Cano’s brand new EP, Trap Tumbado, the singer-songwriter goes light on the folk and leans into the electric cool of the Latin trap sound. Produced in part by the Grammy-winning duo Play-N-Skillz and Latin trap pioneer Young Hollywood, Trap Tumbado is a collection of songs in the key of hard-knock-life — best exemplified in lead single “Yo Vengo Del Barrio” — augmented by crisp beats and a touch of pop gloss. But in the penultimate track, “Que Bendición,” or “What a Blessing,” Cano reminds his fanbase that, despite all the drip and the sparkle of his newfound popularity, he’s still got a little country in him.
“Yippee-yay, yippie-yo,” he croons to a trap beat, melded cleverly with a rustic guitar strum. In Spanish, he boasts of his success with gusto, all the while, looking back on the rocky road he took to get there. “I was made a millionaire by singing just one song/It is the one of my life captured in ink and written with much pain,” he reflects. “What a blessing, what a blessing.” It’s a sonic snapshot of a hotshot rapper with a cowboy heart, teetering on the brink of international stardom.
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