Still only in their 20s, Edén Muñoz and his Calibre 50 represent a new generation of regional Mexican acts appealing to a young, bicultural, digital-savvy fan base eager to connect with its roots (of the four new artist of the year finalists at 2017's Billboard Latin Music Awards, two - Ulíces Chaidez y Sus Plebes and Crecer German - are regional Mexican). Here are the leading social-media stars driving the genre's renaissance.
UlÍces Chaidez y Sus Plebes
Chaidez, 17, and his "plebes" sing both romantic fare and corridos with sparse arrangements (two guitars and tuba), emulating the sound of Chaidez's hero Ariel Camacho. "When I started playing, I actually explored other genres," Chaidez, who has three Hot Latin Songs hits, told Billboard last year, "but I knew right away that it wasn't me or my style."
Victoria 'La Mala' Ortiz
Roc Nation Latin's first regional Mexican act describes herself as "[if] 2Pac and Selena had a child," blending traditional banda with modern edge. Her "Vete Mucho" video was the genre's first to premiere on Tidal. One of the few females in her genre, Ortiz says that "young girls still need to see strong women, women who are fighters and warriors, as role models."
"Regional Mexican music is the pride of Mexico," says the 18-year-old from the northern state of Sonora. Nodal - who calls his style "mariacheño," a mix of mariachi and norteño - is the first regional Mexican act to reach the Hot Latin Songs top five in more than a year with his debut single, "Adios Amor." (The video has garnered more than 100 million YouTube views.)
Baby-faced Germán - who at 20 still wears braces - sings mostly romantic fare. "I grew up with this music," he says. "It's a unique genre conveying happiness, love, sadness and memories." The Sinaloa native reached the Hot Latin Songs top 20 with "Quién Te Entiende" in 2016; the track has been streamed nearly 30 million times in the United States.
The 23-year-old has scored five hits on Regional Mexican Airplay, but his biggest impact may come with the newly released "Me llamo Juan," an ode to immigrants. "It all stems from just realizing the political state we live in," Favela recently told Billboard. "We all know a Juan. He or she is the fieldworker, a doctor, a cook ... My mom is a Juan."
This article originally appeared in the April 29 issue of Billboard.