Face To Face

Face To Face With Mexican hip-hop artist El Pinche Mara

Face To Face With Mexican hip-hop artist El Pinche Mara
Photo cover by: Believe
Published May 16, 2024
8 min read

For its first time in Latin America, our Face to Face series gets off to a flying start with an interview with Mexican rapper El Pinche Mara. As lively as he is talkative, El Mara is quite a character of the Mexican hip-hop scene, and he chatted with us about his eventful career and his upcoming record, Bajo Penumbra.

For the Mexican hip-hop enthusiasts – and there’s a lot, according to a 2023 Spotify report stating that Mexico was their 2nd market for hip-hop streams1El Pinche Mara is far from unknown. Not only he has been on the circuit for more than 10 years, but he also put the Yucatan’s town of Merida on the Mexican hip-hop map.

Yet music was not an easy gamble for the man who was in a street gang as a child and spent time in juvenile detention centers. The tragic death of his brother prompted him to change his life and give his all to his art.  In 2014, he then released El Relato De Mi Vida, an album that would have a major impact on the Mexican hip-hop audience.

Since that album, and despite having calmed down, El Pinche Mara, or simply El Mara, has never stopped releasing new projects, demonstrating his ability to adapt to different current hip-hop styles - from boom-bap to trap - while remaining true to his universe, and to a growing fanbase.

Prior of the release of his new album, Bajo Penumbra (Under Darkess), El Mara made a trip to Mexico D.F and Ali Masare, A&R Manager Artist Services at Believe Mexico seized the chance to meet up with him to discuss about his new record, but also how he took up to YouTube to grow his career and how music saved his life.

Ali Masare:  What's up, Mara? How are you? It's so nice to meet up with you today. How are you feeling?

El Mara: Thank you. I'm good, bro. I'm chill.

Ali Masare: How is Mexico City treating you?

El Mara:  Good, man! Thanks. Everything’s okay for you?

Ali Masare:  Yes! We know that in Mexico you are one of the most recognized artists in the hip hop scene. But I would like that people who see us in other parts of the world know who is El Mara, where does El Mara come from?

El Mara: Well.. El Mara is Maya. I am from Merida, Yucatan, in the south of Mexico, from the south of Merida too.  I am from a well-known neighborhood called San José Tecoh. And what else? I grew up in the hood, I grew up with the gang with nothing but lots of dreams.

Ali Masare: Do you feel that at some point, getting out of the gangs, of the street was thanks to the music, that music was the exit?

El Mara: I think that the music did save me, from being killed or from killing someone. It saved me from being disabled or in jail forever. It did save me.

Because when I was in jail, I met a manager, and the guy trusted me. He took me to Guadalajara, and look, after after having seen my brother's death, to be there… you know, among the danger. To be at the worst you can be. And then you see that there is another life, that there is faith, that with money you can go elsewhere…

Ali Masare: How was the conception of your first album El Relato De Mi Vida? Can you explain what do you have in there, for the people who haven't listened to it and who would like to?

El Mara:  Well, "El relato de mi vida" I wrote it because… Look, I was in gangs. I did bad stuff and people did bad stuff to me. When one day, when I was around 16, my dad came to see me and he told me: “Son, you look like you're 26 years old”. The street was wearing me out. That's what I put in El Relato De Mi Vida.

I was barely 17 but living like a 27-year-old. I was telling myself I was going too fast, living too fast. But I felt committed, because I had a lot of people following me. And El Pinche Mara has to be El Pinche Mara man…. Or else, it is not El Mara. In a way I was doing wrong, I ended up in jail.

I don't judge people that have made mistakes. I think it’s good when someone learns from their mistakes. The good thing about the stages of life, when you think of it, is that you're getting there and then going out, no? For example, when you're in a physical process, you can tell yourself “I just want to build myself up”. You must enjoy the process wherever you are in your life.

Ali Masare:  Feel free to correct me, but I think your YouTube channel has been one of your main tools. How do you feel about having a space like a YouTube channel?  Which obviously wasn't possible 15 or 20 years ago, when you had to go watch television to see music videos. How do you think this type of tool has helped you?

El Mara: I think YouTube is a tool that helps you discover a lot of artists that you couldn't know before. Artist you weren't going to see on TV, so they weren't going to make it.

Ali Masare: Right, you couldn't imagine seeing El Mara on TV in 2014.

El Mara: Exactly, this was never going to happen. So I think YouTube is a window of opportunities for people who have talent, and that YouTube can give us the opportunity to do our own thing. And more than anything, it's like a new way of expressing ourselves. Before us, the Mayas started with drawings. And with YouTube, we can also express our own feelings.

Ali Masare: How have you been feeling working with Believe Artist Services team? Do you feel they are adding something to your team, in addition of your management or your label? How do you think Believe AS has supported you?

El Mara: I think that's what you were you were saying about tools.  I mean, now I really feel like a soldier in a bulletproof vest, with all the tools and support.  Having an armor is essential in everything, it’s true.

I also think having a team is necessary. It’s the job of the artist and the team to understand that we're all in this together. We're all having that connection, that we’re all in this, and that we're going to go far together. That we're going to have a good organization, so that there will be no misunderstandings. I think it's good.

Since I've been working with Believe, the truth is that everything has improved. We have been understanding each other well. I have understood things that I didn't understand before.

I think it's one of the times where an artist can say “I understand why they did this”.  He can feel the support and that's what motivates him to keep going, to make him say “let’s go with this team”.

Well that what I said: “Let’s see, these guys want to work, and they want to take things far”.  And I feel good about that, I feel confident, I feel freer to do things, you know?

Ali Masare: Yes, totally! Now, you are very popular here in Mexico, but do you see yourself outside of Mexico, playing in other parts of the world? Or collaborating with other artists from around the world?

El Mara: Yes, I think that a lot of people expect that from me, collaborations with many people I mean. I would like to go to Los Angeles and connect with people there, to Colombia too. We have connections in Colombia, we have to go there, we didn’t yet.  But yes, I can see myself do this.

I want to bring out a project to do big things like that… Things that can take us to a higher level.

Ali Masare: How cool!  You already know that your Believe AS team is going to be there with you to support you throughout your career.

Okay, as we have been talking about different stages of your life, now I would like that you sit back and relax, close your eyes and think about what you see for the Mara of 2030.

El Mara: What I want is to reach my 30th birthday happy, you know? Feeling complete, in peace, brother. You get me? That's what I want.

I want my daughters to see their daddy and say, “that’s my daddy”. I mean, that's my happiness. That's how I want to reach age 30.

Ali Masare: You are a more mature person now, for whom family matters a lot.  Do you also feel that you can't let them down, or that at the end of the day, what you do,  you do it for them?

El Mara:  I feel motivated, I am motivated. My daughter motivates me. It motivates me to know that time will pass. And that if I don't do something today, then it's not going to be the same later. It motivates me that I'm one step ahead, that I can keep going.

And I am committed to tomorrow, starting today. And since the day my daughter was born, committed to go forward. What interests me today is that she also follows my footsteps in music, and that without sorrows, she can say “Look, that’s my dad”.

I think I also feel committed to the people, and I mean, that's a debt that I'm paying with this album.

Ali Marare: Speaking about this, what's coming up from El Mara in 2024?

El Mara:  There's an album coming called Bajo Penumbra. This album releases all the debts I have with myself, with the future and with my fans.

The fact is that I got myself together. I'm going to give the fans what they want. They want a better version of El Mara and I've been working on that. So, I'm going to release a full album for them which is what they are asking for. They want “malandrez”, wickedness, that's what I'm going to give them.

And then again, I will settle that debt with myself, and I'm going to see myself in the videos with pleasure now.

Ali Masare: This is the Mara I want!

El Mara:  Then about the future, from what I told you about my daughter tomorrow she’s going to see the father she has today. And the one from the past, her dad when he was young. It's something that I also take care of, because like I said, I have my daughters and I want them to see that it's what I do, and that they show it with pride.

Ali Masare: Finally, what would you say to the people who can identify with you.

El Mara: To keep it short, I just think, that it’s never too late. It's always good to have a good a fresh start. It's always good to start again from scratch, and that success is is a better revenge for everyone. You don't need to get into any trouble.

I want to tell you that it's not the only thing out there. There are many beautiful things on the planet and in the world and nothing is difficult.

All people are equal, and the fact that a person comes from the bottom of the street with nothing, maybe from where I come from, or worse, and goes really far, it's admirable.

So, give it all you have, be strong, be “chingones”, be warriors; and if you are a man, even more so because you have a commitment in life.

Ali Masare: Mara, thank you so much for your time my brother, it's always a pleasure to be able to talk with you

El Mara:  We’re on top here brother!


El Mara's new album Bajo Penumbra is out and available on your favorite streaming platforms (Spotify, YouTube Music).

You can follow El Mara on YouTubeInstagram, and TikTok.

1. Nearly a Quarter of All Streams on Spotify Are Hip-Hop. Spotify’s Global Editors Reflect on the Genre’s Growth — Spotify