On June 26, Mexican crooner Sergio Vega, known as “El Shaka,” was gunned down in Sinaloa state, just hours before dismissing rumors that he had already been killed.
The 40-year-old is just one of at least seven musicians of the Grupero genre from south of the border who have been murdered in the past three years. They all sing narcocorridos, ballads glorifying the lives of drug traffickers that are sometimes commissioned directly by the cartels.
Vega, who put out 13 albums in his decade-long career, celebrated cocaine in tracks like “El Coco.” Though the motive behind Vegas’ death is still unknown, it has put other artists of the Grupero genre on high alert.
“It makes me think, ‘will I end up like that?’” Larry Hernández, a narcocorrido singer who won the New Latin Artist of the Year award at the 2010 Billboard Latin Music Awards, told Latina.com. But Hernández, whose idol is the slain singer Chalino Sánchez, will continue to entertain his fans despite the headlines.
“I grew up listening to this music and have lived with her all my life,” he says. “I can see La Raza’s reaction at my performances; they enjoy themselves and have fun and that’s what’s important.” Hernández, who doesn’t have bodyguards, draws inspiration for his lyrics from the news and “things that are heard on the street.”