Junior H wasn’t planning on revisiting his beloved album $ad Boyz 4 Life for a sequel. After dropping a pair of albums last year, including his trap experiment Contingente, Junior started writing music in the same style as the 2019 LP he made when he didn’t have a fancy studio to work out.
“I wrote one or two songs. The days passed and then I had four or five tracks about romance. That’s where the idea to do a part two began,” he tells Rolling Stone. This time, the Mexican corridos star had a robust team surrounding him, a crew of songwriters he’s wanted to uplift through his $ad Boyz Entertainment company, and his go-to producers to build a complete record. What came out of those sessions he managed to squeeze in while on the road is $ad Boyz 4 Life II, which dropped Friday.
The album feels like quintessential Junior, though it changed course a few times. He originally planned on tapping his genre besties Natanael Cano, Peso Pluma, Gabito Ballesteros, and Óscar Maydon, with whom he’s collaborated multiple times, but everyone has been busy on the road.
“I decided that if one person was missing on the record, then nobody was going to be on it,” he admits. “The record is me on my own. There were some big names but they couldn’t make it so here are we.”
The Plumas, Canos, and Ballesteros of the world have been leading the corridos takeover of música Mexicana on the charts. Junior has been thinking a bunch of the genre’s impact — and how he feels that many of his colleagues haven’t gotten their flowers. Jimmy Humilde, the lead of the Rancho Humilde, recently made headlines for saying the Latin Grammys were “full of shit” for snubbing his artists, which have helped usher in the new wave.
“Honestly, it really affected me,” Junior says of not being recognized. Both his albums Contingente and Mi Vida En Un Cigarro II were eligible for awards, as were some of his collaborations, including “El Azul,” his massive collaboration with Peso Pluma.
“I’ve said that I will never let something like this affect me that much but this time it really got me,” he says. “Mexican music has grown in such an inexplicable way that hasn’t been seen before. This really broke my heart, and I don’t want to use these words, but I do think that there is some discrimination there.”
He says that the snubs have been part of the reason why he avoids going to industry events because they “make me uncomfortable.” Junior thinks that his music, and that of his colleagues, has been left out of some of these awards shows because people “sometimes relate corridos to narcotrafico.” He’s still, however, hopeful that things will change in the future.
“It’s really sad not being taken seriously because we are artists, we make our own music, we write,” Junior adds. “We’re doing something big and it’s very sad not being taken seriously, but hopefully there will be a change very soon.”
For now, he’s sticking to the excitement of his new album and the success of his recent tour, and he looks forward to hearing what his fans think of his new record. The album is meant to be listened to from start to finish, at night, surrounded by your compas. “Roll the windows down, sip some bears, and blow up the speakers,” Junior says. “That’s the perfect way.”
From a friend’s house in Guadalajara, Junior breaks down five songs from his new album, as he shouts out some of the new collaborators he tapped for the project:
Serpiente is a very personal track. It has a lot of feeling. It’s definitely one of my favorite songs and I put it early in the album so fans can listen as soon as they dip into the record. Honestly, the inspiration for this track came from the love and respect I had for a person. The song is more like a gift. That’s how I see it: as a gift. That person will never know that is a song for them. Another reason why I chose to do Sad Boyz II was because I missed my own lyrics. This whole year I have done many features so I told people “Let me just do my own stuff.” I wanted this record to have that same essence of Sad Boyz I.
We’re just at the very beginning of building Sad Boyz Entertainment, and we had a couple of new guys join the team — I worked on “Y Lloro” with one of them, Gael Valenzuela. This guy is very skilled at writing. He showed me his songs, including “Y Lloro.” As artists, sometimes we love a song once it’s already recorded, you know? So, it’s a song that when I heard it I knew it was going to be a hit. Once it was finished, I said, “This is it. It has so many feelings in it.” I really like it. “No hay mensajes de mi amor, esa niña ya cambió.” It’s just sad boy stuff.
This record is something completely different from the first one. The first one I recorded on my own in my room with my speakers. “Las Noches” features the old intros I used to use. I remember when I began to make music, most of my songs had intros right before the song started. That was something that started to change once we got a little bit more commercial. It’s definitely a style that I don’t want to lose. “Las Noches” has that effect. This album is for the new fans but also for the old ones. I’m a little afraid of their reaction because I would have like to record this album with the same feeling as Sad Boyz I, by myself. I could have been sittin’ in my room and recording but it was going to take me a lot of time, and right now I’m in the middle of a tour that doesn’t stop. I had zero time, but I wanted to deliver the best quality possible. You can see the evolution. From the very first album until now, it’s amazing how our sound has gotten better.
LOKERÓN POR AMOR
This one does talk about sadness but in a very subtle tone. It’s a track to make you happy, to let out that pain. It’s a track meant to make you happy, but to make you ask yourself, “Why should I be sad?” It’s the first song I recorded by Jorge Jimenez, who recently joined the Sad Boyz Entertainment team. I think that [being a sad boy] is for life but we’re happy. I’m always happy, because life depends on that, right? Being a sad boy will always have its mark. We all have days when we are “sad boys” so, I think it is something that will stay always present, just that we’ll try to keep it under control. [Laughs]
My friend Neto Fernández was a big influence on this project. He has such a good ear, and “Otro Amor” is thanks to that. When I sent in the tracklist, I was asked how to categorize this song, and it’s got a bit of a rock-pop feel. It has synthesizers which Ernesto worked on and we had some guitars. It’s a unique song because it has electric guitars, which reminds me of Sad Boyz I. I wrote the lyrics and it’s a song para dedicar. It’s very different from the other tracks on the album.