Music

How Codiciado’s Visa Revocation Fueled His Cross-Border Corridos Comeback

After a five-year hiatus from the U.S. due to a visa revocation over a minor marijuana possession charge, Mexican musician Codiciado made a striking comeback. Barred from entry just as his career began to ascend, the Tijuana-born artist didn’t let this setback slow his momentum. He had already co-founded Grupo Codiciado in 2015 and rapidly gained industry recognition with eight full-length albums— from 2016’s Si Lo Digo Es Porque Puedo to 2022’s Cuadro de Honor via Rancho Humilde.

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Undeterred by the challenges, Codiciado used this period to reinvent himself. He split from Grupo Codiciado to pursue a solo venture, a move catalyzed by both contemplation and encouragement from fans. “When we made the decision to split up, I really wanted to stop — I didn’t want to make music, because I was with the idea that we were a group and that people knew me for the group,” he tells Billboard Español. “But the people who were with me at the time gave me encouragement to say that it wasn’t over there, that it was just a stepping stone, a stumble. We had to keep going.”

This new venture culminated in his 2023 solo debut, Golpes de La Vida, which delved into his personal and professional experiences. Rather than stalling, the separation from U.S. audiences fueled his resolve, setting the stage for a triumphant return.

Codiciado’s reentry into the U.S. market was marked by a successful five-date tour with sold-out venues and record attendance, particularly at Sacramento’s Hard Rock Live. The tour’s success not only reaffirmed his artistic presence, but also spurred him to schedule an extended second leg of the Ando Enfocado U.S. Tour. This new leg included 14 additional dates, starting in Brooklyn, New York on September 27 and wrapping up in Reno, Nevada on October 26.

But before that, he will also be touring Mexico and performing at RUMBAZO 2024, a Latin music festival in its third edition in partnership with Billboard. Headlined by Nicky Jam and Luis R. Conriquez, the event will take place on September 13 and 14 in Las Vegas and will also feature Arcángel.

Meanwhile, the singer-songwriter has also been making the rounds on the Billboard charts. “Gabachas,” with Joaquin Medina and Sheeno, secured his first top 10 placement on the Latin Pop Airplay chart, reaching No. 9 in June. “It was merely a studio session,” he says of the creative process. “We got together in Los Angeles and spent about four or five hours hammering out the beat, the lyrics and the melodies.”

His musical influences and the roots of his passion for Mexican music were shaped by his surroundings and personal experiences in Tijuana. “The music I fell in love with [I heard] at home and in the streets of Tijuana, listening to corridos,” Codiciado explained. He cites Los Tucanes de Tijuana as a big influence, and mentions being 14 years old when he wrote his first song. “It was a corrido that I did for a…. I mean, I didn’t know about cartels in those days, just what I heard on the street, but it was a corrido for someone from Sinaloa,” he mentions.

On his stage name, Codiciado — which means “coveted” or “sought-after” — he adds, “[Codiciado] is something you want to have, something that costs. I told my former bandmates that we had to live up to the name, which was to stick so that we were actually sought-after — something that costs money, unlike any local band.”

When it comes to his style — as an artist who might be mistaken as a rapper, but also with a fashion sense that one might associate with Natanael Cano and the new wave of corridos — Codiciado was also ahead of the curve, donning urban wear before it was a thing in música Mexicana.

“I had several disagreements with older colleagues, because they thought I was [dressing this way] to look out of place. Many took it as an offense, saying, ‘No, man, we’re the same, and you’re wearing durags, caps and sneakers, while we’re here with cowboy hats and boots,’” he recalls. “I did it because I come from Tijuana. Although my parents are from Sinaloa, my culture is more urban. In fact, when Nata later broke out — and several other new young artists — everyone tried to have that image. It was a big change for the genre.”

Beyond his music career, Codiciado has remained committed to giving back to the community. His collaboration with La Fundación UFW, a foundation started by activist Cesar Chávez, underscores his dedication.

“We as a society have to be a little bit more noble and empathize more with people who don’t have,” says the artist born Erick de Jesús Aragón, who began earning money working in the Southern California fields. “It’s always good to do our bit. Even the people who work in the fields or on the streets have feelings and many times they share what they have. So, I always try to encourage others to do the same. If you have 100 pesos, give 10, 20, nothing happens. I try to have those approaches, not only with the fields, but also with children and families.”

Name: Erick de Jesús Aragón Alcantar

Age: 31 

Recommended Song: “Vamos Aclarando Muchas Cosas”

Biggest Accomplishment: “My children. A four year old son and a ten year old daughter.”

What’s Next: “The second part of my Ando Enfocado Tour. [First] we are planning touring Mexico. The upcoming album is called No Lo Intenten En Casa, Vol. 2, because when I was with Grupo Codiciado, we did No Lo Intenten En Casa. That album contains corridos bélicos. We want to give continuity to volume two. I already have it recorded — I’m just working on the vocals so we can have it ready for November.”

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