Restaurants and clubs in the famous resort city of Cancún are beginning to edit their playlists to remove music that promotes violence and drug use.
First on the chopping block are narcocorridos that glamorize and romanticize the drug trade, portraying the traffickers as larger-than-life figures or folk heroes.
Narcocorridos draw from traditional Mexican folk music styles, such as the corrido and banda, but with storytelling lyrics that celebrate the exploits of drug traffickers.
But it’s not just restaurants and bars that are shying away from this problematic genre.
Upcoming concerts by Grupo Firme and Komander have been canceled by local authorities, arguing that such acts glorify narcos and violence against women.
Critics argue that these moves constitute censorship.
Though at first glance, these bands could be seen as akin to the move to ban heavy metal music, like during the “satanic panic” of the 1990s in the United States, it’s important to keep the context in mind.
“This is not about censorship. It’s about changing our culture and stopping glorifying the worst elements of our society,” said Julio Villareal Zapata, president of Cancún’s restaurant association.
Aside from the surge in violence in Cancún over the past decade, businesses are subject to a sort of narco tax known as pago de piso.
Refusal to pay these criminal organizations off for protection often results in gruesome acts of violence.
“The woman who sold hot dogs on the corner here got gunned down by narcos for not paying up. This is not about censorship or being politically correct. It’s about not being complicit with criminals,” said Cancún resident Raul Magaña.
Though most of the attention behind this sort of ban has focused on narcocorridos, other styles of music, such as reggaeton, are also under increased scrutiny for their misogynistic lyrics and overt violence.
Even famous rock acts like Café Tacvba have altered lyrics considered to be over the line, such as the iconic “Ingrata.”