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Last year, Rage Against the Machine frontman Zack de la Rocha joined the band onstage for "Somos Mas Americanos," a bold song of the immigrant experience: "A thousand times they have shouted at me, 'Go home, you don't belong here' / Let me remind the gringo that I didn't cross the border, the border crossed me . . . They call me 'invader' / They took eight states from us—who is the invader here?"
But Los Tigres del Norte are also the Notorious B.I.G. of norteño music, popularizing the narcocorrido, a type of song that tells street-level stories of gangsters, drug dealers, murderers and the criminal underworld. In the best of these songs, a woman is involved. The band's earliest break arrived with "Contraband y Tración," a song about a woman who smuggles marijuana across the border with another man, with whom she has fallen in love. When he threatens to leave her for another woman, she murders him, places the gun at his side, takes his money and runs from the police.
"Contraband y Tración" spurred not only a new musical genre, but Los Tigres' formidable career—one that's not about to die. "I've been doing this since I was a little kid," Hernandez says. "I don't know what else to do. I don't have any other profession. So it seems like I'm going to be doing this for my life—until God takes me."
Watch Los Tigres del Norte with Zack de la Rocha, singing "Somos Mas Americanos":