Mexican-American Band Fuerza Régida Is Making Music 'For the People' (2024)

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So Y’all Can Talk

The group closes out a banner year with two albums — the anticipated Pa Que Hablen and its surprise companion Sigan Hablando — and talks about the other unexpected sounds they have in store

Fuerza Régida’s corridos have become so popular that the California band never knows who might call them up next looking to collaborate. A few weeks ago, it was Marshmello. Today, it’s Myke Towers.

Fuerza Régida’s lead singer Jesús Ortiz Paz had mentioned the Puerto Rican rapper just moments earlier when suddenly, he glances down and holds up his phone. “Speaking of the homie, look!” he exclaims. Within seconds, Towers is on the line. “No te vas a morir pronto, compa,” Ortiz tells him. “I was just talking about you.”

Towers’ call comes right as Ortiz is catching Rolling Stone up on major news: Fuerza Régida has not one but two new albums out, both released this week. There’s the highly anticipated Pa Que Hablen (So Y’all Can Talk), which the band announced earlier this month, and its surprise companion, Sigan Hablando (Keep Talking), a project listeners weren’t expecting at all. Ortiz smiles as he explains how he kept the second album a secret from fans and how he proud he is of the new music. “This is the best work I’ve done so far in my career,” he says. “These albums are it.”

The two albums, as the titles suggest, are meant to prove anyone who’s ever doubted the band wrong. The group, which is comprised of Ortiz, bass player José Garcia, requinto player Samuel Jaimez, and six-string guitarist Khrystian Ramos, have been at it for seven years, rising to the top of the Mexican-American music scene with a style of urban corridos that mix the energy of trap and hip-hop with Mexican traditions.

It wasn’t that long ago that Ortiz was working as a promoter, throwing flyer parties “in the hoods” of SoCal and closing his events with the band. Now, the group is filling arenas, connecting with a younger generation of U.S.-born Mexicans through modern storytelling and a social media presence that showcases their dedication and grind. The band’s forward-thinking sound has positioned them at the forefront of a movement of Gen Z acts who straddle both cultures and who have been gaining fans across the world.

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So much of Fuerza Régida’s music has been about embracing their pocho identity, a term for kids who were born in the U.S. but raised on Mexican culture, often toggling between listening to Chalino Sanchez at home and bumping rap with friends. Ortiz, who usually dons heavy, diamond-encrusted chains and sneakers you’d expect to see on rappers like Lil Baby and Roddy Ricch, doesn’t shy away from the fact that he grew up speaking English and imperfect Spanish. He’s inspired by his upbringing in San Bernardino, where he was raised on a kind of SoCal biculturalism that shapes the band’s attitude and aesthetic. “We’re just a new f*cking generation,” he says. “It’s talking about the streets from over here. It’s [like] trap music, but we brought our roots into it.”

Fuerza Régida has already turned heads with their unexpected American references over Mexican arrangements. Their 2018 breakout hit “Radicamos en South Central,” for example, tells the story of a drug dealer dominating the streets of the L.A. neighborhood. It uses a similar narrative format of Mexico’s great narcocorridos, but from a U.S. perspective. Their new albums show how much more they want to do: Pa Que Hablen opens with “Mi Vecindario,” a typical Régida corrido tumbado that tells Ortiz’s story of making his way out of his San Bernardino hometown despite criticism and setbacks. Ortiz built his way up as a local barber in his low-income community before he started performing with the band and becoming part of a major act to watch.

“Mi Vecindario” goes back to his roots and celebrates where he came from. “I did it for the people. For everyone that lives in the hood that knows the struggles,” he says, before singing a verse over Zoom: “Not many make it out alive, many less become millionaires.”

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Mexican-American Band Fuerza Régida Is Making Music 'For the People' (1)

There are traditional touches across both projects: The album cover for Sigan Hablando shows the band wearing old-school tejana cowboy hats, a big change from their typical streetwear style. (“I don’t really dress like that,” Ortiz says.) The shift is also notable in some of the songs on the second record, which includes collaborations with well-known Mexican acts. Calibre 50’s respected former frontman Edén Muñóz appears on “Ya Verán,” and Fuerza Régida teams up with Grupo Frontera for the left-field cumbia, “Bebé Dame.”

But the albums, Ortiz says, are also for Latinos who are into American trap and who might initially feel turned off by the tuba or the string-picking sounds of the requinto. “People just close their minds because they hear the instruments and they think it’s just some Mexican whack sh*t,” he says. “But they’ve got to sit down and really listen to the lyrics. When they listen, they’re going to understand: It’s the same culture. It’s the same thing, just from a different place.”

Aside from the in-person parties that gave the band its start, Ortiz was able to build a massive fanbase online. In the group’s early days, Ortiz spent a lot of his time posting vlogs on YouTube, where he’s approaching one million followers. It helped him connect with fans of Régida’s music, but also with those who identified with his down-to-earth attitude and who enjoyed watching the group’s weed-infused shenanigans online. “That sh*t worked, bro,” he says of posting vlogs almost every other day. “If we had 500 fans, now we had 1,000. They’d come through to shows and say all these little slogans that I would say in the vlogs.” Because viewers connected with him, they started listening to the group.

The videos also showed a more human side of the singer. He has a close relationship with his parents and sometimes features them in his vlogs, showing moments where he accomplishes the immigrant child dream of giving back to them. In one of his most viral videos, Ortiz surprised his dad with a brand-new Toyota Tacoma “just because” he could. (He also wrote “Igualito a Mi Apá” on the new album for his father.)

But over the pandemic, Ortiz decided to drop the camera for a bit and jump back in the studio. He says he had gone almost a year without making new music because of his vlogs. The band started focusing on new work, though they still share videos on TikTok, where they have four million followers combined, and are known to post the occasional peek into their tour life. “We got our feet on the ground and we’re just not going to stop from here. We got the formula already,” Ortiz says. “We just have to be what [we are].”

That drive has also inspired the band to collaborate with artists outside of their genre, including Towers. Ortiz met up with him in Miami after learning that the Puerto Rican singer “f*cks with my music.” Before that, the DJ and producer Marshmello welcomed Ortiz to the studio. “We’re trying to do that EDC rave stuff,” Ortiz explains.

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The ambitions don’t stop there: “I have a goal,” he adds, before taking a pause: “I want a feature with Lil Baby. I respect the way he moves and the way he does his sh*t. He’s American, bro. I’m American. We just come from different places.”

These are the kind of risks the band is ready to take: They want to mix genres, try completely new things, and “go global, bro.” After selling out arenas and topping the charts, they’re in a place where they can accomplish all of it. “Now I can do this Marshmello sh*t. Now I can do this Myke Towers sh*t,” Ortiz says. “My people are going to respect it and then we’re going to go crazy and change the game.”

Mexican-American Band Fuerza Régida Is Making Music 'For the People' (2024)
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