Journalist, ethnomusicologist, d.j.

I’m a Brazilian journalist and ethnomusicologist (anthropology + music + sound) based in Europe. In the past ten years, I’ve worked with a number of media outlets and led several projects crossing popular music and digital culture on topics like Latin American sounds, electronic-sonic technologies and Global South dialogs.
I d.j. too.

felipemf [at] gmail [dot] com

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[Remezcla] At the Top of Mexico’s Rap Game, Gera MX Embraces His Roots

This is a story assignment for Remezcla. It was first published in June 2021.

There’s only one place Mexican rapper Gera MX loves as much as the stage: the soccer field. The 26-year-old, Monterey-born artist is also a forward in a local league and proudly tells us, over a Zoom call, that his team is the first place in the current season.

“Playing soccer is the thing I like the most because when I’m in the field I’m treated like everyone else. I’m not Gera MX, I’m Gerardo Daniel Torres Montante,” he says.

For listeners (12 million monthly only on Spotify), Gerardo is simply known as Gera MX. More people have become familiar with his name since April when he and fellow Mexican Christian Nodal released the single “Botella Tras Botella”—a hit that has collected more than 200 million views on YouTube so far.

“The making of ‘Botella Tras Botella’ was organic,” Gera recalls. “We were playing soccer at my yard and Christian came by, he had an idea for the melody of the song. So, we went to my home studio, we wrote the lyrics, and started adding arms and legs to the song.” In less than one week, they had the track finished and the music video shot: a film made out of behind-the-scenes type footage featuring Gera MX, Nodal and their friends having a good time together in spite of the downhearted lyrics they sing on the track.

“Botella Tras Botella” was an important push for Gera MX to land in both the hip-hop and Mexican-pop landscapes, says the rapper, but this nudge comes after seven albums, several singles and other high-scoring tracks like the raw boom-bap of “Con Mi Fe” or the speed flow of “Me Toca Perder.” Now, the artist has earned a place among the top-tier acts of his country.

“I’ve been working at this for 13 years and what was missing to me was a door, a world hit, so I cannot allow people to say I got lucky,” he affirms. “But I’m still Gera, el cachorro.”

Cachorro is Gera MX’s first alias, a nickname that comes from his early days in music and impromptu rap battles back in the mid-2000s. He was the youngest member of the Mexamafia, the crew that gave him a start in music. At that time, he looked up to artists like Cartel de Santa and Molotov—essential names from the ‘90s Mexican hip-hop scene. He’s had a sharp pen-game since, shaped by his life as a kid in Monterey and San Luis Potosi.

“My career evolved, and I changed my lyrics subjects; now I sing about being an independent artist and getting up in the top of the industry,” Gera MX’s says. “I feel that I’ve made a change of mind to many kids in this country and this will be important to Mexican music in the future.”

Photo courtesy of Universal Music.

Today, Gera believes Mexican hip-hop is going through its best moment yet. Not only are artists broadening their impact over different Latin American markets, they’re also entering the U.S. market, performing concerts and releasing songs with North-American featured artists.

“The Mexican old school rappers are still active, and we are getting into the US with our music. There are artists who are working in South America, and also many artists working hard in Mexico. This is a great time for hip hop in this country.”

The thriving stage for hip-hop in Mexico has allowed Gera MX to create a collective. In 2019, he founded the label Rich Vagos along with the rappers Bipo MontanaJay RomeroTeeam Revolver. Early this year, they released the first album by “Los No Tan Tristes,” a supergroup in which Gera MX shares the mic with Nanpa Básico and Charles Ans. “I am the least sad of the three of us,” Gera MX laughs. “Nampa is a poet, Charles is more nostalgic, and I’m more of a savage.”

Chanting over a corrido theme, leading a rap group, and managing other artists are accomplishments a young Gera MX—known as cachorro—couldn’t have dreamed up. More than simple attempts, the rapper’s path towards the stardom of Mexican hip-hop are cautious steps nurtured by his constant pace in the music-making.

“Once you have sold-out shows, you have hits, and put a lot of effort into your work, you tell yourself: OK, I can do something new, and don’t care about the haters, since there will be haters, no matter where, no matter when,” Gera MX says shortly before showing us one of his tattoos that reads “Crecido en la escuela de no podrás;” that is, “Raised in the you-can’t school.”

The ruthless tone of the motto is found only when Gera MX is on stage, or playing soccer. Those are moments when he feels the raza, a word that is regularly seen in his lyrics. In Gera MX’s own words: “To be the raza is the feeling I get when I go to my hometown and see my people, play soccer. On a stage or playing soccer, in both places, you have to win.”


felipemf [at] gmail [dot] com

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