Already legendary in underground circles, Bay City, Texas rapper That Mexican OT swerves into the mainstream with an unabashedly Tejano take on the Southern subgenre. His success was prophesied by his late mother, who, before she died when he was just 7, brushed off his poor primary school grades and nourished his dreams of being an entertainer. In debut Lonestar Luchador, OT manifests her dream by casting himself as an amalgam of his childhood wrestling heroes Rey Mysterio and John Cena. The mashup results in OT connecting on his claim to rising star status with a whimsical concept album that flexes his incorrigible yet infectious personality, deep Texas roots, and rapping versatility.
The 24-year-old Virgil Rene Gazca has been rapping since he was 4, but didn’t start writing his own verses until a few years later – when his incarcerated father encouraged him to voice his own thoughts in verse during visits. Influenced by Houston Hip Hop royalty DJ Screw and UGK, Gazca spent his childhood honing his skills through rap battles with his father’s rowdy friends. That led him to That Mexican Outta Texas – his alter ego not unlike Eminem’s Slim Shady. A lyrical outlaw as compelling as he is out of control – with puro pinche flair.
Built around an imaginary wrestling match for which Gazca, as retired luchador OT Super Mex, and rising comedian Ralph Barbosa Jr, as announcer Ralph a la Pimp Hand, provide commentary. It’s a clear nod to The Eminem Show and serves as a throughline that brings the project together as one cohesive package. Beyond that, it’s a risky gambit from a young artist that could’ve easily fallen flat if the execution wasn’t there. But, as Gazca often says in his rhymes, he’s not one known for missing. And in a genre known for rising stars that burn out of ideas before inking their first deals – it’s notable that he didn’t here.
Lyrically, Lonestar Luchador is OT’s coming out party. Switching flows as easily as he rolls his Rs, OT paints image after image of his fantastic life as Houston’s ultimate party boy. In the braggadocious “Skelz,” OT flexes his intricate rhyme structure and his gift for pop culture allusions. On “Johnny Dang,” he shows he can also rattle off infectious pop hooks.
The song also features standout verses from Freeport-based rapper and long-time collaborator DRODi, as well as Houston legend Paul Wall, who proves yet again he hasn’t lost a step. It’s representative of the overall album, which features appearances by Roc Nation’s Maxo Kream (“Opp or 2”), Dallas up-and-comer BigXthaPlug (“Hit List”), and Mexican rapper Lefty Sm (“Barrio”). Each and every guest spot feels like a genuine connection instead of the usual label marketing gimmick.
A common pitfall breakout artists face is an inability to build on the initial formula that caught mainstream attention. That doesn’t appear to be a problem for OT, who is both a fountain of pop hooks and capable of changing flows on a dime. On “Breannan,” he spits a melancholy lyrical verse that explains his trust issues at length. A few tracks later, he’s channeling DJ Screw in the syrupy “OMG.” OT’s grasp of cadence is only matched by his delightfully eclectic taste in music – ranging from trap, blues, rock, and Mexican regional – which shines through in the album’s production.
On Lonestar Luchador, That Mexican OT proves he’s got the rapping skills, artistic ambition, and industry support needed to take the Hip Hop world by storm. With solid backing from his peers and a seemingly endless supply of raunchy imagery to tap, the Texas rapper more than delivers on his underground promise and crashes into the mainstream with aplomb.