Prison Escapes & Bikinis Propel Calibre 50 Up the Charts

Courtesy Photo
Calibre 50's album, "Historias de la Calle."

Norteño/banda quartet Calibre 50 are very democratic with their single selections.

“Usually our singles are decided by our fans,” says Edén Muñoz, Calibre’s hunky 25-year-old singer, accordionist and lead composer. “We put them out and make decisions based on streams and Youtbue and Facebook. We even ask our fans to comment on the videos. They’re very involved.”

This time around fans chose “Se volvió a pelar mi Apá” (which roughly translates to, “My dad escaped again”). Weird title, you say?

Well, not really, since the song, one of Calibre’s trademark, aggressive corridos, tells in great detail drug lord El Chapo Guzman’s escape from a Mexican prison. The song’s title, attributed in the lyrics to someone named “Ivan,” no doubt refers to El Chapo’s son, Ivan. In a further nod to El Chapo's exploits, the video was shot inside a tunnel, and, of course, there are all kinds of images of El Chapo making his underground escape. 

The track is part of Historias de la Calle (Stories From the Streets), Calibre’s newest album and their first to debut at No. 1 on Top Latin Albums. And, insists Muñoz, there was no intention of glorifying the bad guys. 

“There are many stories,” says Muñoz matter of fact. “We’re not trying to aggrandize anyone. We decided it was a story we wanted to include in the album. Because the album is a compilation of everything that happened in 2015. Anecdotes we heard, things that were happening in the news.”

“Se volvió a pelar mi Apá” isn’t on radio yet, but the track is bubbling under on the Latin Digital Songs chart (at No. 76), just days after the video’s release.

It’s not the only thing propelling this album though.

With their brash sound and rugged good looks and their multiplicity of styles -- they play narcocorridos but also ballads and party songs -- Calibre has amassed a young, loyal following and have placed three No. 1 albums on the Regional Mexican albums chart.

But Historias, their ninth album and their first on Sony after several years on Disa, is their first No. 1 on Top Latin Albums.

The group -- which also includes Armando Ramos on guitar, Alex Gaxiola on tuba and Erick Garcia on drums -- draws from many sources in this album.

Earlier single “La Gripa” is a danceable party song whose video is heavy on bikini-clad girls, a departure for this group. “Buscando la manera,” written by friend and fellow artist Régulo Caro, tells the travails of immigrants trying to make a living; “Amor limosnero” is a cover of a Joan Sebastian track. There’s even a cumbia/reggae fusion, and another narcocorrido: “Gano Holanda, Perdió China,” is about imprisoned drug kingpin “Chino Anthrax.”

“We’re realizing the project is growing and growing,” says Muñoz of their No. 1. “And our fans are the ones who have us there, buying the albums, posting on our social media. In the end, we’re trying to represent them with dignity.” 

Billboard Latin Music Awards 2016