Five & Done: Omar Cruz

In regards to Rap, Los Angeles has been in a weird space for a minute now. Outside of the big boss Snoop Dogg and The Game, the Left Coast has had a very limited stream of talent to really make a commercial impact past California’s borderline. Some blame it on the South holding the crown, some blame it on the politics and others [Ed. Note: No, not] might say that the West just fell off. One MC hoping to prove the naysayers wrong and break past that glass ceiling is Omar Cruz. Originally going under the moniker Blunts LLA, Cruz would garner his initial buzz from his two mixtapes City Of Gods and Blow. The work he was putting in the streets wouldn’t be in vain as he would be quickly scooped up by Geffen Records. His street release The Cruzifiction would also be critically acclaimed. Now with an official major label debut, Sign of the Cruz, in the works, O. Cruz makes it clear he’s official tissue. On who Omar Cruz was before Rap...Omar Cruz is the same guy after the deal and after I’m done with this Rap s**t. A Latin kid from the west side who believes that you can do what you want to do as long as you got the streets behind you and you got your family behind you. I’m not supposed to be here. Statistically being from LA, born from immigrants; I’m not even supposed to be in the Hip-Hop game. To me it’s just a blessing to be the voice for Latinos in the Rap game. I thank God that I’m in the position to make change and hopefully inspire other young Latin artists to follow the footsteps I’m doing, just like I was inspired by cats like Big Punisher. It’s kind of hard to name the top five MC’s and not mention Pun. Maybe people don’t feel that way or I’m biased because I’m Latin. Jay and Nas influenced me a lot. Lyrically Pac influenced me spiritually and that drive and aggression comes out of me. I’ve recorded in studios in Hollywood where Pac recorded. I feel like his spirit is in that room. I’m very much indebted to the forefathers of the West Coast like Cube, Eazy-E and Snoop to help mold me into the artist that I am. The album I am putting out is an album. I’m not putting out a bunch of songs to propel two singles into the market for the sake of ringtone sales. I’m putting out a record that from beginning to end you going to know where I’m from, what I’m going through, what I’m about and your going to feel my flow more than per se a song of just me trying to be fly and showing you new steps to a dance. On the importance of representing the Latin culture through his music…It’s very important. It hasn’t been represented properly in the last ten years. I don’t think we’re very visible. We’re starting to be seen more on television and in movies now, but I think that Hip-Hop is important because this is my life. I’m an MC that happens to be Latino. If you take away all the accolades and all the bulls**t, at the end of the day I love the culture and I’m a spitter. That’s what I do. That’s what I’m here for, to rep for the Hip-Hop culture, but I happen to be Latino. That’s how it’s bleeding through.The album he holds as a template when it comes to crafting his own debut... When I was putting it together I would say no. Looking back on the ninety plus records and a year and a half gone by, I can say the album is reminiscent of the Golden Era of Hip-Hop. That Biggie Ready To Die, those Ice Cube records. Like I said there are different emotions on the album. Luckily I’m in a position to be able to put out a record that I know will resonate in the industry because it’s an album. It’s stories, there’s chapters to it, there’s substance to it. This album is a story you haven’t heard in Hip-Hop yet. [Omar Cruz f/ The Game "Gangsta Music"]On figuring it is tougher being from the West coast and being a Latin rapper too... Definitely. I’m a Latin trying to come up in a genre that’s dominated by Blacks. I think people are more open to it. I think if you are dope people don’t care what you are. If you nice, you nice. It’s like Obama. I think people forget he is Black after a while. The issues he talks about are the issues that everyone wants to hear addressed if they vote for him. Like okay, the initial shock that he is a Latin kid from LA; he’s on some gangster cholo Rap Chicano s**t. Once they get past all that bulls**t, and they notice I’m talking about some s**t and my beats are crazy and lyrically I’m raising the bar. It’s the same thing Pun did. Nobody gave a f**k he was a Puerto Rican kid from The Bronx after they heard him rap. I think if it weren’t for Pun, Fat Joe wouldn’t be where he’s at right now and I think Joe knows that. And Joe gives him a lot of credit. Joe helped out Pun a lot too, but Joe is another example of a Latino in the game who people don’t even think about being Latino anymore. He just puts out hits.What he dislikes most about this Rap game...Radio. Right now radio in the urban world is a main catalyst of destroying real Hip-Hop. It’s almost systematically acing out what the streets want and trying to cater what’s going to pay the sponsor. First of all you have a bunch of DJ’s who are producers and if you don’t entertain their production, they ain’t going to spin your s**t. If you think they are wack, you can’t say that they are wack because they might not play your s**t. Back in the days, the DJ would just play the record and let the people decide. Now they want to be A&R’s and decide what’s going to be played when they should just play a record. It’s getting to a point where radio doesn’t represent the streets. What’s happening is that it’s hurting sales; it’s shortchanging us. Radio is so corporate; it’s sucking the life of what this is supposed to be about. [Omar Cruz "I Hang With My Dogz"]