How Rancho Humilde Is Bringing Corrido-Trap to the Mainstream

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Monty Lamont Lemon

From left: Venegas, Humilde and Becerra.

In 1993, when Jimmy Humilde was 14, he organized his first neighborhood party in Los Angeles — and nearly 400 people showed up as local DJ G-Minor performed. Humilde continued to host parties throughout high school, booking rising regional Mexican artists Gerardo Ortiz and Alfredo Olivas, but was eager to expand his presence in the music industry. In 2008, he launched his own independent label, Rancho Humilde, along with business partner José Becerra. (Roque Venegas later joined as CFO.)

Now Humilde, 41, is leading the regional urban music scene with chart-topping marquee signee Natanael Cano — who released his first trap album, Trap Tumbado, in alliance with Republic Records in June — and other urban corrido artists like Junior H and Ovi. Humilde, who in 2019 signed a global distribution deal with Cinq Music, cites his nontraditional marketing strategies as key to the label’s success. “We’ve advertised on Myspace, YouTube and Facebook, and never used radio or television to become who we are,” he says. “I want to deliver something real — and I can do that on the internet.”

Before launching his label, Humilde worked as a street vendor and cellphone salesman, but music, he says, “kept pulling me back.” Born and raised in L.A. to Mexican parents, Humilde told his father at age 7 that he wanted to be a famous singer, “but I wasn’t any good.” After a short-lived artist career, Humilde focused on helping local talent find their sound and, in 2011, signed Rancho Humilde’s first two acts: Komando Negro and Los Hijos de Barrón. He appreciated their fresh, guitar-led take on corridos.

 

After bolstering Rancho Humilde’s roster with regional Mexican urban acts Legado 7, Arsenal Efectivo and Fuerza Regida, the label signed Cano in 2019 — and within months secured his collaboration with Bad Bunny on “Soy El Diablo.” (It hit No. 16 on Billboard’s Hot Latin Songs chart.) To help push Cano into the mainstream, Humilde then partnered with Republic for Cano’s Trap Tumbado. “I knew Nata was a rapper,” says Humilde, “but I wanted him to focus on corridos first. He’s an innovator. People will take notice.”

 

Cano’s Trap Tumbado peaked at No. 11 on Billboard’s Latin Rhythm Albums chart (dated July 11), becoming Rancho Humilde’s debut entry on the list. Elsewhere, Junior H scored his first entry on Top Latin Albums with Atrapado En Un Sueño in April, the second regional Mexican album to debut in the tally’s top five this year. Rancho Humilde has also logged seven other titles on the Hot Latin Songs chart: Five are by Cano, while Junior H is behind the other two.

 

Cano was ranked the third top Latin artist, behind only Bad Bunny and Ozuna, according to Nielsen Music/MRC Data’s 2020 midyear report — but Humilde isn’t settling. He plans to push his 40 label acts forward with more corridos and trap fusions in the near future from Junior H (like Cano, he was making trap music before corridos, according to Humilde), Ovi and Fuerza Regida. “We’ll keep working hard and if we grow more, cool — but if we don’t, that’s fine too,” says Humilde. “I’ll let God decide.”

This article originally appeared in the July 25, 2020 issue of Billboard.

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