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Cruz Control: Omar Cruz Stands up for the West Coast
12/5/06 - exclusive interview


picture of rapper Omar Cruz

The Game is known for his desire to put the Left Coast back on the hip hop map, now the artist formerly known as Blunts LLA hopes to do the same for Latinos in the rap industry.


Los Angeles native Omar Cruz first became infatuated with music at age 10 when his father gave him a Star Studio system for Christmas. Idolizing artists like Big Daddy Kane, N.W.A., Rakim and the Beastie Boys as a youngster, he tried his hand as a breaker then a DJ before putting his focus into being a rapper.


Many years and several mixtapes later, Cruz has generated a well deserved buzz. With BYI Entertainment's 50/50 joint venture with Interscope/Geffen Records and endorsements from industry heavyweights Mister Cartoon and Estevan Oriol, Omar prepares to release his heavily anticipated debut album, we get the scoop in our exclusive interview. You previously went by the name Blunts LLA, why the name change?

For me, it was more of a rebirth, I wanted to put more of my stuff in the music. Blunts was a name I had on the streets for a long time, LLA stands for Latin Lyrics Assassin. I'm still the LLA as far as the alias as well. Omar Cruz allowed me to put more of myself into the music, and start it new.

You inked a deal with Interscope through BYI, what's your relationship to BYI?

BYI is Lulu's - Luis Torres' - label. It started out, I met Lulu a few years back and immediately started working. I dropped my first mixtape called "City of Gods", going under Blunts LLA. City of Gods started for me, half album half mixtape sort of thing. I had some original songs, I actually had a Big Pun tribute on that. I don't know if you heard that, I trade flows with Punisher on that, it's called Armed Robber. After that, six months later I dropped "Blow" which was a downloadable mixtape on our website. After Blow and City of Gods garnered enough attention, we had the streets going crazy, internet was responding, by then we had some label interest. Started garnering some label interest and it got to the point where the right deal came along. BYI, when we first started with Geffen-Interscope.

It came out that who knows our culture better than us, our team was strong. It was me behind the mic, strong in-house production. People like Rome and Javie Lopez, and another cat name Julian Bunetta. Art direction with Mister Cartoon and Estevan Oriol, Joker Brand, Soul Assassins studios and all that. When you put all these pieces together, and Lulu having been in the industry, they saw that, respected it. We know our culture the best, we know how to reach our target market the best. What we needed them for was the basic machine to push our music and get it out there to the masses. It was almost a no-brainer to them, that's how the deal came about. Other labels that had approached us, we didn't get into it, as far as they gave us an offer we couldn't refuse.

Joell Ortiz was signed to Aftermath, have you ever felt that Interscope is only trying to appeal to Latino consumers by signing Latin artists?

Congratulations to Joell Ortiz since we're all under the Interscope-Geffen umbrella. To me, I feel its about time, and there's room for a lot of Latin artists. It doesn't just have to be one. I think this Latin rap thing is still in its infant stages. Since Big pun, no one's been really doing it doing it. The more the merrier. I don't think anyone can f**k with me on what I do, and the type of music that I do. To me, there just doesn't have to be one Latin artist. You got different types of rappers and production. I'm from L.A., I'm from the West Coast and I do a certain type of music, but I feel like my music can be heard all over the world. Whether they have an ulterior motive, I don't know.

To me, its a beautiful thing that more Latin artists are getting exposure, getting their chance to get their music out there, because not everyone is the same. Just like like you have the Black hip hop artists, you have Lil Jon, Ludacris, 50, Snoop, Game, all of them get exposure, a lot under the same label. I look at it like, when its all said and done, I want to go down in the history books as bringing my own people up, bringing the hip hop culture up, and opening doors for other cats down the line.

You mentioned Estevan Oriol, how did you connect with him?

I met Estevan Oriol in the 90's through Little Lucky from Soul Assassins and Joker Brand clothing, he works with Joker Brand as a designer. He heard a little demo I had, I knew him for a long time, they seen my growth in the game, always supported me. Estevan, Mister Cartoon and those cats always seen me take my steps in the game and try to make it. They felt that I was ready to where they wanted to both sign me. They said let's get behind this guy 100%. As far as BYI and me, it takes a team, you can't be a one man show. To say its just you is ridiculous, it's not happening. Beside music-wise, they're there as mentors in the game, these are successful Latino business men who have come across the same obstacles that I'm gonna cross. So they can help me out, on a friendship level, on a homie level. I'm grateful for that, they've been crucial to my success, I wouldn't be here without those guys. I didn't just meet them a couple weeks ago, I've known them for years, they're family right there.

So you're recording for an upcoming full length album for Interscope?

Yeah, I'm in the middle of recording right now. We're looking at first quarter release, 2007. The album is incredible, every song we do gets better and better. It's exciting right now, because I feel like its gonna open a lot of ears and hopefully more Latinos get signed and get in the game because of this. Hip Hop is hurting, period. I'm working with Rome, BYI, Javi Lopez, just got back from Miami not too long ago working with Cool and Dre, they gave us sick tracks. DJ Khaled, all those Miami cats got love, it's good to see the unity out there as well. I'm supposed to be in the studio with a lot of other cats. I don't really care who makes the track, if the track is sick, its hot, I'm on them. I think hip hop is dry right now. Listen to what's going on right now, there's no soul in it. We try to bring a lot of that soul back to music, that real s**t that you haven't heard in a minute.

Does the new album have a title?

I don't have a title for it yet, I'm working on that. Its yet to be titled. I wouldn't want to call it a movie, but its definitely something a lot of people can related to on the struggle of coming up period. The way I look at it, a lot of the music that's out there right now, its focusing on a lot of the things that people that a lot of people don't have. A lifestyle that only a small percentage of people are living. When you look on TV, crazy mansions, crazy cars. That's all good, we all want to strive for success. But the reality of the people I'm focusing on, the people don't have that. We don't have that kind of lifestyle. Everyone loves partying and all that, but the reality is, I don't know too many homies in the street that are rolling in Ferraris, in mansions, pouring champagne bottles. This album is focusing more on the people in the struggle, everyday street life.

Any Spanish rapping on this album?

No real Spanish rap on it, I throw Spanish words here and there, but no Spanish rap.

Any notable guest appearances scheduled for the album?

Right now, no. There's going to be some surprise guests on there, revealed when the album drops. Pretty much me. I feel a lot of times artists come out and put 20 features on their album, its kind of like a compilation to me. I'm trying to stand on my own two feet. Stand for yourself before you throw crazy guests on there for hopes to appealing to a wider audience.

Who is the target audience for this album?

The Hip Hop nation, man. Lyrical content, delivery. On City of God, my main feature was Big Pun. Big Pun to me was a huge influence. If you like the Big Pun albums, you might want to pick up my album. It's from my perspective, L.A., but a similar approach, lyrically. Represents the streets, on the Blow mixtape I have a line that says "When I visit BX, I'm gonna rep Big Pun, buy his chain off of Liza, hand it back to his son." Big Pun, he did it in New York. He's a major influence influence on me. If Big Pun was alive, I would definitely reach out to him to be on my album.

That raises an interesting question. Some people might be wary of a Pun guest spot if he didn't know who his lyrics would share a track with. Do you ever get that?

I did that as a tribute, the same way you did your website. That's all that was, the song was that I got ambition. Yeah, of course I'm pretty sure a lot of people think about that with Pac, a lot of Pac albums out after he passed. You'll come across a few good songs that sound cool, and some that are like, whatever. I don't know how I would feel if people started putting my music with people I don't even know who they are. When they're done the right way, you go to the proper channels, make sure that the people that he used to roll with approve of that. But if Pun was alive, I would reach out to him.

What can fans expect with your new album?

I call this reality rap. They can expect the streets, the struggle, lyrically raising the bar. Aint gonna be no stepping and snapping on this album, its gonna be some real hip hop s**t. A lot of these interviews, I say go out there and buy more hip hop, real s**t, go buy the hip hop that makes you proud to listen to hip hop. You gotta support that real s**t, Nas got an album, Game got an album, Clipse got a sick a** album. I know this is and I'm a Latin artist, but this is hip hop. Expect an album that is not just for Latins but everybody.

I'm proud to be Latino, my father's from Colombia, my mother's from Mexico, I'm born and raised in Los Angeles, California, City of Gods. That's where I'm from, that's what I'm putting out there. I'd like to reach the world with this album.

Any last thoughts?

First I want to thank you for this website, because its crucial to a lot of artists. I appreciate what you're doing, period. To everyone that's been supporting me, throughout the beginning stages to now. I love yall, I wouldn't be here without yall. I got something dropping soon before the album drops. Check out, for all the info. Hip Hop is hurting right now, all I can say is I'm coming, thanks for the support.

Omar Cruz on myspace:



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