Cruz Control: Omar Cruz
Stands up for the West Coast
12/5/06 - LatinRapper.com exclusive interview
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
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
LatinRapper.com: 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
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
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 LatinRapper.com 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 BYIentertainment.com, myspace.com/omarcruz
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: