interview OMAR CRUZ  (August 2007) | Interview By: Eddie Gurrola

Dubcnn sat down with Omar Cruz for a new exclusive interview before any other media outlet could get ahold of him. This extensive feature covers many different topics. First, we talk about his new street single “Hang With My Doggz,” which is about to blow up all over the radio. We’re giving you the world premiere of the finished track as well, so you can listen to it after reading about the creation of the song! We also go into detail about Omar’s new album, “The Sign Of The Cruz.” Cruz explains his situation over at Geffen/Interscope, which is allowing him to have the album sound exactly the way he wants it to.

We also speak about the concept behind the album, and the surprises he has lined up for it. In addition to this, we cover his perspective on West Coast unity, and he recalls his experience in the studio recording the “Powerhouse” anthem with WC and The Game.

As always we have both the transcript and the audio for you to check and please feel free to send any feedback regarding the interview to: eddiegurolla@dubcnn.com

Interview was done in July 2007.

Questions Asked By :
Eddie Gurrola

Omar Cruz Gave Dubcnn.com A Shoutout! Check That Here

Full Interview In Audio For Download : Here

Dubcnn: We’re here with Omar Cruz. How’s it going today man?

Good man! Just right here, relaxing in this beautiful L.A. weather.

Dubcnn: Let’s start by talking about your mixtapes. You’re known for constantly grinding out your mixtapes, and they’re very well received by everybody. Do you feel that your mixtapes were the key to grabbing the attention of the record labels at first?

Definitely. I think [that] not having much of a mixtape scene here in L.A., [there was] a surge in the past five years of a lot of mixtapes out here, and only the cream of the crop [got] heard. Whatever bubbles to the top [are the] people [that] are really gonna get a shot. So, for me, it’s always been a street scene from the beginning. If you ain’t got the streets, you ain’t going to win. For me, it’s always been a grassroots movement, to make sure [we started] from the very bottom. [We] just handed [the mixtapes] out, we never really sold them, although they do get sold. But, we try to get them to people. We want to get it out to them.

Like I said, there’s not really a mixtape scene out here; it’s more of a New York thing. So, for someone to come out here and be like “Yo, come listen to my shit,” I’m like, “Cool, let me get it.” I might be able to help. For me, it’s always been a perfect vehicle to get my music and my movement out there. Me being an MC, I’ve gotta let cats know that it’s not a game – it’s not a joke to me.

I feel blessed to be recognized for this shit man. “The Cruzifixion” got nominated for a Mixtape Award. I was out there in Harlem and New York, and to see the love that they’ve got out there was fuckin’… that shit was crazy to me. It was definitely a blessing. I feel very blessed that people are being accepting to it. With my album coming out, “The Sign Of The Cruz,” it’s going to be a continuation of what I’ve been doing – just on a bigger scale.

Dubcnn: That’s definitely good to hear, and it was actually one of the questions I was going to ask you. So, this album, “The Sign Of The Cruz,” is going to have the same type of sound that you were doing with your mixtapes. That’s the plan?

Definitely. A lot of our mixtapes, like The “Cruzifixion,” were all original tracks. That was mostly production by my man Rome, Javie Lopez, [and] Juliette Bennetta. These are the same cats that are involved with my album “The Sign Of The Cruz.” So, you’re gonna get that raw shit: that real shit, that hip-hop shit, that street shit. Shit that you don’t hear. It’s definitely going to be a breath of fresh air, and the response now is crazy. The label’s really happy with it. The Interscope cats are building it. We’ve got the biggest production in that building right now, that everyone is pumped up about. That, for me, is also a blessing. I didn’t do what I do to just keep [it to myself]…I’m trying to bring the West Coast back.

Dubcnn: That’s good to hear! You’re on a major label, you’re doing what you want to do with your music, and everyone’s happy. That’s going to be pretty exciting to hear a project coming out on a major label that’s exactly what the artist wants…

Well, that’s the thing…the way our deal was structured, [it] was a 50/50 joint venture with B.Y.I. (Beyond Your Imagination) with my man Lulu. So, we don’t deal with A&Rs, we deal with the V.P. of Geffen. He was instrumental in allowing us to have our creative control. Who knows our culture better than us, right?

Dubcnn: Exactly.

So, you mix the hip-hop culture with the Latino culture and it’s right. We’ve got Mr. Cartoon handling the art direction. [We’re] strong, so that allows me to do what I do best, which is [to] really destroy motherfuckers.

Dubcnn: You’re about to drop your street single, “Hang With My Doggz.” Tell us about that song.

“Hang With My Doggz” is produced by Javie Lopez, who is the cat of the future. [He’s an] up-and-coming cat who’s been grinding out in the streets for a long time. The song is just crazy man! It utilizes a sample from another West Coast legend, Volume 10. It’s one of those songs that, as soon as you hear it, it’s like nothing else. There’s nothing else like it.

We all know what’s playing on the radio right now. When you hear [the single,] it just socks you in the fuckin’ mouth! It forces you to pay attention. It’s just one of those tracks. When [DJ] Skee first heard it, he went crazy. He was like, “This is it! This is the one!” So, it’s definitely a street banger, and that’s what we’re doing. We’re taking it back to the streets.

We’re going to [do] a promo tour in August, [and] we’re gonna hit every little spot here on the West Coast. I don’t care how little your station is, or how big your station is, we’re gonna come to you if you want us to come! Hit me up on my Myspace (www.myspace.com/omarcruz,) [or] hit up Dubcnn and let them know (eddie@dubcnn.com). If you want me to come out to your station, I don’t care if you’re in the back of your closet, [if you’re an] internet station, [or a] college station. It don’t matter. We want everyone to know that we’re here – the West Coast is here! We’re back man, and I’m active in making sure that it’s here to stay.

Dubcnn: That sounds like a great plan! So, you recently recorded the “Powerhouse” anthem with WC and The Game. Tell us about how that collaboration took place. What made you guys come together to do that?

That was crazy! Right before the summer, we had linked up with The Game, and he had done a song for my “Sign Of The Cruz” record. [He is,] to me, one of the leading West Coast cats period right now. [He’s] one of the cats responsible for keeping this West shit alive out here. [So] it made sense for me [to collaborate with him.] It made sense for the project.

So, we did that song, [and] he had mentioned that he wanted me to rock Powerhouse with him. I was like, “cool, let’s make it pop,” and [then] he wanted to do a track. So, a couple weeks later, we made that pop, he hooked it up, [went] down to record with WC and showed love. We made history man! It was a song, not just for Powerhouse, but it was a song just showing a lot of West Coast unity. You have a legend on there: WC. He is the West Coast, you know what I mean? Then you have The Game, who brought the West back, and then me, who’s following right in line to make sure it’s here to stay, and representing for all my Latinos out there.

So, we got together, and literally from the minute that we finished recording it, within hours, it was already on the radio! That shit was blowing up out here. It was crazy man. Then, two weeks later, we go heat it up at Powerhouse, and it got a great response. 27,000 people at the Honda Center in Anaheim – that shit was incredible! We rocked that shit.

Dubcnn: That must have been a really crazy experience…

It was! [Seeing] everyone there showing love, and The Game really shut it down. I’ve gotta take my hat off to [the] dude. He brought out the whole West Coast. He brought out Snoop, he brought out Tha Dogg Pound – Kurupt and Daz. He brought out WC, he brought me, [then] he even brought Kanye out. It was almost like the “Up In Smoke Tour” days, where Dre was bringing everyone out, and the West was strong. It had that kind of vibe to it. So, it was definitely an experience, and I was glad to be a part of it. B.Y.I. was definitely in the building, so we shut it down.

Dubcnn: Are you going to be working with The Game on anything else?

Yeah, he definitely [is on] a track on my album. We stay in touch. He’s on tour in Europe right now. We’ve talked about a few things, so you’ve got to keep your ear to the street.

Dubcnn: Now let’s go into your album, “The Sign Of The Cruz.” Do you have a concept behind the album?

“The Sign Of The Cruz” means “the sign of the cross” in Spanish. You see people do the sign of the cross before they do something big. It could be something dangerous, or if you’re a boxer, you [do it before you] step into the ring. [For] anything big or significant in your life, you do the sign of the cross. For me, I’m using that analogy, [because] this is going to be something big - not just for me, or for Latinos, but for hip-hop.

This album represents the struggle. It represents blood, sweat, and tears – not just from me, [but] from my people, my peers. We’ve just been overlooked in this game for so long that I feel that I’ve got to step up to the plate, and that’s what I’m doin’. Like I said, this album is covering a lot of subject matter you probably don’t hear on other albums today. There ain’t no steppin’ or snappin’ on this album. It’s some raw shit – street shit. I like to call it “reality rap,” because what you hear right now on the radio and in the clubs: it’s fantasy. [Other rappers] are putting a lifestyle out there that they can’t be living.

I know a lot of people think like me, [and] they’re tired of that shit, so I’m taking it back to the streets. Like I said, it’s not just for Latinos – it’s for hip-hop, period. I’m an MC – I happen to be Latino, and I’m proud of it. But I’m proud to be a respected MC [that is] respected by my peers, and I’m trying to be a force. We’re not even calling it an album. We’re calling it an event! So, it’s gonna be big man.

Dubcnn: We’re definitely looking forward to it. So, are you almost finished recording the album?

I’m always recording – I’m a recording artist, [so] that’s what I do. But, the album is 95% done. We still have a minute before we turn it in. We’ve recorded at least 80 songs for this record, so we only pick the best of the best. People always ask me what my favorite song is that I’ve recorded, [and] I always say, “the one I haven’t recorded yet.” I try to outdo myself [on] every song, [but] I don’t really pay attention to [what] anyone else is doing. I just try to do me and outdo myself.

I might be hitting Miami in a week, and if I do that they might have a track over there that I might pop off. That might make the album, [or] it might not, you never know. We’ve still got a little bit of breathing room. If you’ve got that heat, get at me!

Dubcnn: We know you’ve got the producers from your mixtapes like Rome on the album, and we also heard you did some stuff with Cool & Dre. Who else is handling the production of the album?

We have Cool & Dre, shouts out to Cool, Dre, Calvin, [and] everyone in Miami showin’ love. They really fit my style, [and] the chemistry of their music, it definitely [works.] For me, it’s not about a beat. It’s about the chemistry - if you fit my sound. If you fit my style, then we can work. I’m not gonna work with you [just] because you’re a big time producer that everyone wants to fuck with, and [is] charging X amount of dollars for a beat.

I don’t give a fuck what your name is – if your shit is hot and it fits my style, then we can work. But, I want to keep some surprises. What you heard already is what you heard, but I’m gonna keep some surprises. You’ll definitely hear some surprises on the record. Not just on production, but on features. I don’t have a lot of features, but the features I do have are groundbreaking. So, like I said, it’s gonna be an event man!

Dubcnn: Alright, we’ll leave it at that then. I know a lot of people let their stuff out early, and then people aren’t hyped any more for the album when it actually comes out…

Right. It’ll pop off when it pops off. But for me, it’s a well thought out, well-produced album. It’s an album. It’s not a bunch of songs trying to push a single, like other cats are doing nowadays. We sat down, [and] we’ve been working on this album for over a year now. We’re confident [in] our music. It’s going to be a well-crafted album.

[It reminds me] of the golden years, or the 90s, when motherfuckers were really putting albums together. Dr. Dre was a master at that. Gangstarr was doing that, [and] Cube was putting out classic after classic, back to back. That’s what you can expect from this. Like I said, my squad is crazy. I really want to thank my whole B.Y.I. team, you know who you are, [and] the Street Team, you know who you are. Everyone who’s been involved in the whole project: the labels, like I said, Interscope, everyone who’s had their hands in this shit, even cats at radio that are showing me love. I show love to who’s showing me love. Like I said, “Hang With My Doggz” is definitely the jump off – it’s already bumpin’ here in L.A. If you want me to come out to your station, get at me. I’m here!

Dubcnn: The album was supposed to come out this summer. Do you guys have a new release date for it?

Actually, we’re going to push it [back] a little, because there’s a few people that are dropping that we’re trying to coordinate around at our label. So, we’re probably going to push it back a few more months. [If you go] to www.myspace.com/omarcruz, we’ll let you know as soon as we know.

Dubcnn: What do you feel needs to be done to give West Coast artists more exposure? It seems hard for a lot of artists to get recognized out here…

That’s a good question. I think it’s a combination of a few things. First and foremost, you’ve got to look at what it is you’re putting out. A lot of times, people [are] just stuck in a sound that isn’t relevant anymore. A lot of times, people either want to copy or try to reproduce shit that was poppin’ back when the West Coast was poppin’, in the mid-to-late 90’s. There’s certain sounds that people aren’t checkin’ for anymore. I mean, I’m West Coast, but just because I’m West Coast doesn’t mean that I’m gonna have the trademark synthesizer going in and out. [Every song] doesn’t have to be about lowriders. You know what I’m sayin’? [Other than that,] step your game up, from the production end to your lyrical end. The quality can’t be sub-par, and you can’t be mad at the West for not showing love because your shit’s fucking garbage. That’s first.

Second of all, there’s a lot of cats out here, and I’m lucky enough to be friends with a lot [of them.] It’s a mutual respect. For that, it’s a matter of just sticking to it and doing your part, because that’s what we’re all doing. I think a lot of the West Coast is so spread out, and you’ve got the whole gangbang shit out here where a lot of motherfuckers don’t get along, and that definitely hurts us sometimes. But, then again, there are cats that put that shit to the side. At the Powerhouse, I saw bloods, crips, homies – everyone of them onstage, out there for the love of the West Coast. Motherfuckers [have] got to show more mutual love.

If you go to the Bay, or Atlanta, [or] Miami, everyone’s fuckin’ with each other. I’m here! I fuck with whoever I’ve got respect for that fucks with me. It’s all love for me. I’ve got a movement behind me, so I bring [that] whole movement to the table with me. I don’t see why we can’t win. I know how to win, and that’s all I can do. So, that’s what we’re doing: me, Lulu, Chuck, Javie, Knuckles, everybody that’s involved in what we’re doing. I think Beanie Siegel said it best: “Get down or lay down!” I think by this time next year, you’re going to see where the West is shifting to, and it’s gonna be a big “W” man, a big ass “W!”

Dubcnn: Is there anything else you want to say to everyone at Dubcnn?

Keep your ear to the street. [Go to] www.myspace.com/omarcruz. If you want to join the movement, the B.Y.I. Street Team, always check in with the Myspace, all the info is on there. I’d like to give a shout out to everyone who’s been supporting me from day one. I want to thank Dubcnn for showing me mad love, shouts out to everyone, the whole Dubcnn staff, I love y’all! This is it man, we’re gonna take this shit over! The West is fuckin’ back man, and it’s gonna stay there. So stay posted – I’m on the block.



Omar Cruz Gave Dubcnn.com A Shoutout! Check That Here

Full Interview In Audio For Download : Here


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