If you don’t know how to speak Spanish, a listen to a narcocorrido song might have you thinking it was harmless enough. It would feature a relatively jovial singer over some tuba and accordion background, which hardly equates to anything threatening to unknowing ears. As it turns out, narcocorrido is a superviolent form of music that glorifies the lives of Mexican drug cartel criminals. Perhaps taking their cue from American gangsta rap, Buknas de Culiacan, a Los Angeles-based narcocorrido band, tours America equipped with tubas, Mexican guitars, AK-47s and bazookas strapped to their backs. Edgar Quintero is one of the people focused upon in director Shaul Schwarz’s revealing and brutal documentary, Narco Cultura.
Quintero is the lead singer of Buknas de Culiacan, a band of increasing popularity that boasts lyrics such as “Cross my path and I’ll chop your head off.” Their concerts often inspire happy dancing and singalongs. The real, horrifying life they are glorifying is also examined in the film, as Schwarz does ride-alongs with Riccardo Soto, a forensics agent tasked with examining cartel murder scenes riddled with bullets and body parts. Soto resides in Juarez, Mexico, just south of El Paso, Texas. El Paso is annually ranked as one of the safest cities in America. Juarez is one of the murder capitals of the world.