Show & Prove: That Mexican OT
Words: Kyle Eustice
Editor’s Note: This story appears in the Spring 2024 issue of XXL Magazine, on stands now.

Continuing in the tradition of UGK, Paul Wall and Slim Thug, That Mexican OT, which stands for Outta Texas, is continuing to carry rap’s torch for the Lone Star State. He brings his signature brand of southern-dipped, tongue-twisting rhymes to the masses while rocking his hallmark cowboy hat, boots and a diamond grill.

Last May, a snippet of his song, “Johnny Dang” featuring Paul Wall and DRODi, went viral on TikTok and quickly became a hit. The track peaked at No. 65 on the Billboard Hot 100 and No. 19 on the Hot R&B/Hip-Hop chart, while the video has racked up more than 63 million YouTube views. Despite his schtick, That Mexican OT, born Virgil René Gazca, describes himself as a “simple man” and “country boy” who still isn’t quite sure how he got on the path he’s riding down now. “Real talk, I’m the last one they expected,” he says during a Zoom call in January.

Born in Bay City, Texas in 1999, to Carlos Moreno and Sophia Ann Gazca, the 25-year- old rapper had a bumpy start. The barrio where he’s from was a rough neighborhood. Drugs and violence littered the streets and poverty was rampant. His mother was killed by a drunk driver in 2007, when he was just 8 years old, and his father was locked up in prison. Little Virgil and his younger half-brother lived with their grandmother during this time. “Just being in the hood, you learn how to become a politician because of rules, and you can’t cheat the rules,” OT maintains. “If you cheat the rules, you die.”

Music proved to be a source of comfort. Introduced to rap by his uncles as a child, That Mexican OT began rhyming at 4 years old and wrote his first raps at 8. He knew early on he had a passion for making music and he loved listening to it. A “Texas Mexican,” as he describes himself, OT proudly identifies as Tejano. Hip-hop helped him learn his ABCs.
“Music definitely taught me English ’cause my mama had me young,” he shares. “She was there, but she was out, and my dad was in prison, but I had music.”

In seventh grade, OT relocated to Austin, Texas to live with his dad, leaving Bay City behind—albeit just temporarily. There, the aspiring artist continued to hone his rapping chops. As a free man, his father would often throw wild parties and wake up his young son to battle rap his drunk friends. Those pals would ultimately walk away embarrassed that they got outshined by a kid. “He is probably part of the reason why I’m an animal today with this music,” OT recalls of his dad pushing him to rap at an early age. “He put me through gladiator school with that type of s**t.”

By the time OT reached high school, he says he was “always mad” and regularly getting in trouble as he experimented with drugs and hustled to scrape money together. Inspired by artists like Big L, Eminem, UGK and Lil’ Keke, OT sharpened his skills as a rapper through high school, recording music in the school hallways before graduating in 2018.

As That Mexican OT tried to find his footing in life, a brush with the law in 2020 abruptly woke him up. Hiding from the police in the backwoods of Texas for several arduous hours, he decided rapping was his only way out and started uploading his music to Facebook and SoundCloud. In June of 2020, OT released his first mixtape, South Texas Project, and the song “Plan C” became the debut single. But it was “La Muerte,” released later that year, that truly marked a shift in his perspective. “I had a moment when I realized I wasn’t rapping no more, because there’s a difference between rapping and making music,” he explains. “When I recorded ‘La Muerte,’ that’s when I realized like, Oh, yeah. I’m doing something now.”

That Mexican OT kept pumping out music, with the Southside Steppin and 1 Double O mixtapes arriving in 2021. The following year, Manifest Music founders Greg Gates-Davenport and Fee Banks discovered OT on Facebook and promptly signed him. Banks introduced OT to GoodTalk Founder/CEO Jonny Shipes and they all ended up joining forces.

Later that year, OT signed a deal with Interscope Records. His debut studio album, Lonestar Luchador, arrived via Manifest Music Group/GoodTalk/Good Money/Interscope last July, and included OT’s hit song “Johnny Dang.” The track, a homage to renowned Houston jeweler and grill maker Johnny Dang, took off across streaming, YouTube and social media. Paul Wall, who says he was itching to collaborate with OT for a “long time,” jumped at the opportunity to hop on the song. It was particularly serendipitous because the concept revolves around Johnny Dang, Wall’s longtime friend and business partner.

“He was popping before ‘Johnny Dang,’” Wall says of OT. “I was a fan of him before we worked together. I love it being about Johnny Dang. That’s my guy, so I’m gonna love that. And OT’s bars; he got a lot of bars. He says some s**t.”

OT hasn’t let his foot off the gas since. In January of this year, he released the song “02.02.99,” “Point Em Out” featuring DaBaby came in February and the Texas Technician mixtape was released in March. Now he’s looking toward the future. “There’s more work,” OT expresses. “I don’t know what I’m gonna be doing, but expect to see me everywhere.”

That Mexican OT is impressed by his own success. He’s crawled out from the tumbleweeds to create a life for himself he never imagined. “As a kid, I hated everything about me,” he says. “I hated my name, my ethnicity, the way I looked—everything—and lil ol’ me is doing all this stuff. I’m just good at rapping, and I’m a real-life cowboy. I’m from the country. None of this is a facade.”

Read That Mexican OT's Show & Prove in the Spring 2024 issue of XXL Magazine, on newsstands now. The new issue also includes the cover story with Gunna and conversations with Metro BoominDanny Brown42 DuggJim Jones and Maino a.k.a. Lobby Boyz, DruskiTeezo Touchdown41BabyDrillRapsody, actress La La AnthonyBigXthaPlugRob49Reuben Vincent, singer Tyla, actress La La Anthony and producer Tate Kobang. There's also a look at how social networking has a chokehold on rappers' feelings and how hip-hop in 2024 is experiencing more wins than losses and the ways in which kid rappers are thriving thanks to social media.

See Photos of Gunna's XXL Magazine Spring 2024 Issue Cover Story

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