Eight years after the death of Canserbero, the irreverent voice of Venezuelan rap

  • The Venezuelan musician, considered one of the greatest exponents of conscientious rap, had an ending like something out of one of his songs, and full of mysteries that still divide his followers. However, he also left a cultural legacy that is heard throughout Latin America.

His name was Tirone José González Orama, but Latin America knew him by his rapper alias: Canserbero. Like the watchdog of the underworld, with his deep voice he spoke about death and the problems of a Venezuela submerged in insecurity and neglect. Far from making apologies, his songs questioned this violence, being one of the benchmarks of conscious rap in the country.

However, in his aura of “poet of death”, as the network came to nickname him BBC, a halo of life shone. That’s why on her arm she had the phrase tattooed All we need is love (all we need is Love).

Canserbero died on January 20, 2015, at the age of 26. For only three months, he was not included in the 27 Club, that supernatural group of celebrities who, throughout history, have coincidentally lost their lives at the age of 27, including Kurt Cobain, Jim Morrison and Amy Winehouse. In the case of the Venezuelan, his departure has fueled a whole series of speculations, theories and mysteries that constitute his own urban legend.

marked for death

Eight years after the death of Canserbero, the irreverent voice of Venezuelan rap
Photo: Courtesy

Tirone González was born in Caracas on March 11, 1988, at the Lídice General Hospital. At an early age his family moved to Palo Negro, in Aragua, the state where he lived for much of his life. Although he came from a home with few economic resources, since he was a child he showed an interest in reading and music, being influenced by the rock bands that his father listened to, such as The Beatles, The Who or Pink Floyd.

Two major losses shaped his personality and his view of the world as childhood ended. When he was 9 years old, his mother died, so he was left in the care of his father. However, three years later, when he was 12 years old, one of his older brothers was killed by a criminal. This experience would mark Tirone, who would begin to take refuge in stronger musical genres such as hard rock and rap, of which he was captivated by his lyrics about the same violence that he lived on a daily basis.

González began to move in the hip hop scene of Maracay, where he became friends with Manuel Galvis, known as Blackamikase. Both would form the group Códigos de Barrio, although due to lack of money they were never able to record their songs. Blackamikase in turn introduced him to the producer Leonardo Díaz, alias Afromak, who would be key in the formation of the teenager. In an interview with the newspaper The viewer, Afromak said that every day Tirone would go home to listen to music, sometimes even skipping class. He would spend the whole afternoon exploring his records, which he used to take to his house for analysis.

“Tirone was a very applied person with reading. What he didn’t know he looked for, he investigated, he wasn’t lazy, you know. He was very fond of acquiring knowledge from wherever he was. Much of Tirone’s music is based on the literature that he consumed,” he stated in that interview.

One day, the young man arrived at Afromak’s house on his bicycle like every afternoon, but this time he was remarkably excited. “I already know what I’m going to call myself: Canserbero, but with an s”, he remembers that he told him. He took his name from the dog Cerberus, the three-headed dog from Greek mythology, in charge of guarding the gates of Hades. He now he would become the guardian of all the deaths that had stalked him.


Eight years after the death of Canserbero, the irreverent voice of Venezuelan rap
Canserbero (left) with Lil Supa (right). Photo: Courtesy

Canserbero was studying Computer Science at the Bicentennial University of Aragua (UBA) when he coincided in classes with one of his musical references. Marlon Morales, better known as Lil Supa, was already in the early 2000s one of the greatest exponents of Venezuelan rap. His Supremacy Hip Hop Clan had been one of the inspirations for Canserbero and Blackamikase in their early days, and the two soon established a friendship that became a partnership.

Lil Supa invited him to participate in the album Bas.Y.Co (Base and Content), published in 2004 in collaboration with Gbeck, La Zaga, Kpú, Ray, Gary, Daniggaz, Wake5 and Nico. From there, a group with the same name would later be formed, which became a pioneer in Venezuela within the genre of conscience rap. At a time when different bands and artists captured life in the neighborhood in their verses through the exaltation of the thug, drugs and revenge, this movement approached it from the denunciation and social criticism.

2008 was key for Canserbero’s career. That year he took Indigo, his first album with Lil Supa, as the duo Can + Zoo. She also began uploading all the single songs she had recorded since 2004 on the Internet. A year later, they were compiled into a mixtape free called Guide to action.

Life and death

For Canserbero, life and death were two sides of the same coin. An infinite cycle destined to repeat itself like a snake that bites its own tail. This was reflected in his two solo albums, which, from opposite sides, make up a single speech. A work that forms the apex of the artist’s brief career.

In 2010, with the support of Kpú and Supa, he released his first studio album, Life. Composed of 17 songs, songs such as “And happiness what?”, “Nice to meet you” and “Thinking of you” stand out. This album has a more optimistic tone, where Canserbero sings of love and spite, of the experience of being alive with its ups and downs in a world so diverse and in a reality so ephemeral that all problems are insignificant. “What I write is life,” he says in the song that gives the album its name.

Your debut It was a success that catapulted him to the top both in Venezuela and abroad. He became one of the first Venezuelan rappers to tour in countries like Colombia, Mexico and Spain, and in 2011 he won a Distorxión award for Best Hip Hop Artist. It would be the only time a recognition of this type in life.

Repeating the formula, in 2012 he completed the other side of his work with Death. As a negative, the white background with the skeleton of the snake was now black, reminding what is the final stop within the circle of life. With 14 songs, here he explored the crudest and most violent side of the country and Latin America, with lyrics loaded with aggressiveness and nihilism. Here Canserbero enters into character to embody all those demons that until now he had questioned in his lyrics.

It is perhaps the album with the artist’s most iconic songs, highlighting “Maquiavélico”, “Llovía”, “De mi muerte” and its bonus track, “Jeremías 17-5”. That’s where it comes from “It’s epic”, where he adapts the legend of Florentino and the devil to the 21st century, in a waste of verses in which he criticizes the hypocrisy of modern society, and even his own philosophical contradictions. He also allows himself to fantasize about taking revenge on the murderer of his brother, even at the cost of his own life.


Eight years after the death of Canserbero, the irreverent voice of Venezuelan rap
Photo: Courtesy

In the years that followed, Canserbero became synonymous with Venezuelan rap. Later he took out Apa Y Can (2013), with Apache, and give me 5 (2014), with Nico JP. She managed to consolidate his international prestige, making more tours of Latin America and Spain. In 2014, she teamed up with producer Carlos Molnar, bassist for the reggae band Zion TPL. With him she toured Chile and Argentina, anticipating new musical projects.

However, all that was cut short on January 20, 2015, when the police found Canserbero’s body on the ground floor of the Camino Real building, in the Andrés Bello de Maracay urbanization. Everything pointed to the fact that he had fallen from the 10th floor, where Molnar’s apartment was. When they went up, they also found the corpse of the producer, with multiple stab wounds, the only witness being his partner, Natalia Améstica.

At first, the authorities declared that Canserbero suffered from schizophrenia, and that he had stayed at Molnar’s house while he was going through a depressive picture. In that version, he murdered his friend during a crisis, then took his own life by jumping out of a window. Immediately, the rapper’s family denied that he suffered from mental problems, which added to several inconsistencies that cast doubt on the police reports. Meanwhile, Améstica left the country, refusing to testify about what happened that day.

Many versions then arose among Canserbero fans, who have put together their own theories on social networks about what could have happened that day. However, none have been fully verified, and the petitions to reopen the case have been shelved. For this reason, between speculation and curiosity, the death of Tirone González will remain as one of the greatest mysteries of Venezuelan music.

Without Borders

Eight years after the death of Canserbero, the irreverent voice of Venezuelan rap
Photo: Courtesy

But for many of his followers, Canserbero’s story goes far beyond his death, so they prefer to celebrate his life. Family and friends of the artist created the El Canserbero Foundation, which is dedicated to promoting reading and art in children from low-income communities through different cultural activities. Although the organization has not updated its social networks since 2019.

Similarly, many artists recognize that Canserbero set a precedent in Venezuelan hip hop. Not only with his lyrics and social conscience that revolutionized an entire generation, but also for opening the way for them on the stages of all of Latin America. In fact, in countries like Spain, his name still resonates when asking about the most emblematic rappers in Venezuela.

The remains of Tirone González currently rest in the Maracay Metropolitan Cemetery, in a tomb whose epitaph reads: “Neither more nor less.” And although many fans search for meanings in his dark lyrics that could presage the tragedy of his last day, much of Canserbero’s philosophy can be synthesized in one part of his theme “Of my death”:

“It’s about the secret of life/ And whenever you’re born again you’ll sing this to your people and he said/ You must sing as if no one is listening/ You must dance as if no one is watching/ You must love without fear of being betrayed.”

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Eight years after the death of Canserbero, the irreverent voice of Venezuelan rap