FEATURE: Omar Cruz: Steppin’ Up

Omar Cruz emerged on the underground L.A. mixtape circuit in the mid to late 2000s. His popularity from projects like City of Gods (2004) and Blow (2005), lead to a major joint venture deal with is own label, B.Y.I. Entertainment and Interscope Records. Not only is he gearing up to release his debut, The Sign of The Cruz, in 2009, but he also has a new hosting gig on MTV Tr3s’ “Pimpeando,” a remixed version of MTV’s “Pimp My Ride” that airs on Mondays at 4 P.M. and 9 P.M. Despite a busy schedule, the Mexican/Colombian MC talks to XXLMag.com about his music, representing for Latinos in hip-hop and why “Pimpeando” is a dope show for anyone to watch as long as they have a vested interest in cars.

XXL: How’d you get involved with “Pimpeando”?

Omar Cruz: I’ve been signed to Interscope for about a year and a half now, working on my record so I had done a few things for MTV Tr3s like “Sucka Free Latino.” It was just a few shows in Manhattan but that lead to their interest in me hosting the next season. I did an audition for it and they liked it. That was that. At first, I was not sure about it because I’m not somebody who is like really interested in doing it because I’m a recording artist, my passion is for hip-hop. But in retrospect I’m very glad that I did it because it allowed me to connect with an audience that may not have known my music, especially with the state of the industry now. You have to raise your profile as much as you can.

XXL: You’re half Chicano and grew up in L.A. Not to be cliche, but were you already a car enthusiast?

OC: Yeah. If you’re from Los Angeles car culture is big [and] it’s not just Chicanos. This show brings you inside L.A.’s car culture period. The car culture is just as heavy in the Latin community as it is in the black community because it’s like an extension of our pride. Look what Funk Master Flex has done with the car show; it’s a phenomenon that crosses cultural barriers. It actually unites; it brings a lot of unity between the blacks and Latinos.

XXL: How does “Pimpeando” differ from “Pimp My Ride”?

OC: The show is kind of a spin off of “Pimp My Ride” but I don’t go to people’s houses and put fish tanks inside the cars or anything like that. It’s more of a lifestyle show. It’s more of me pulling up in something sweet and then someone does drifting, off-roading or low riding. There was a recent episode that aired with cars and girls [but] it wasn’t just modeling and sitting on the car. It was indie car race drivers that are competing with dudes or getting into the cars themselves and getting their hands dirty. I would say it’s a phenomenon for today’s culture—pop culture period. Show me a video that doesn’t have a car in it.

XXL: Let’s talk a little about your music. You have a single with Frankie J, is that the first single from your album?

OC: You could call it the first single. We’re looking to release the album this year but with the show doing as well as it is, we want to let it do its thing and then release it in ’09.

XXL: You talked a little about the car culture bringing unity in the black and Latino community. How can you accomplish the same thing with your music?

OC: I did a song with The Game. He’s actually on my album. I’ve worked with him on a few other projects as well so we talked about this. We sat down and we said that us working together will definitely improve relations because if they see us doing it then it just provides a better environment. We do music. We can’t control a lot of the extracurricular activities that go down in the streets. But what we can do is show that amongst each other—especially with him being pretty much the prominent West Coast rapper—him working with me lets me know that he looks at me as a prominent Latino hip-hop artist on the West. Homie is well aware of what’s going on in the streets so it made sense for us to do that.

XXL: Is it frustrating when people label you as just a Latin rapper?

OC: It does frustrate me but I’ve seen crossovers like Pitbull, Fat Joe and Big Pun—what Pun did was amazing. He put out a record and people didn’t care that he was Latino. He was just a beast. I’m an MC but I happen to be Latino [and] I’m not using it as a crutch. I think that’s where a lot of artists fail. At the end of the day, I’m just an artist who happens to be Latino but the music speaks for itself. -Starrene Rhett

  • JAY STONE

    This nigga(excuss me wigga,my bad woop) sucks.
    Not ever Game can save him

    • aztec1

      these lame ass rappers ain’t got shit on south park mexican ( make your research)

  • venemez

    Lil Rob > Omar Cruz

    12 18s Part II

    XXL you should be checking out for Lil Rob!!!

    • 619

      Fuck Lil’ Rob, nobody listen to him out here.

  • Marco317

    Hes ok, there are more talented latin rappers who should get to eat before him…Don Dinero is a beast, Veze Skante is fire..and that dude above who said Lil Rob , naw, hes strictly underground and u know chicano undergrounds are kinda racists they only fuck with other eses, Down aka Kilo had a nationwide hit but he didnt keep da pressure now everybody forgot him…….NAPTOWN ALL DAY

  • aztec1

    Omar cruz , lil rob, diablo,shadow are all alright rappers but none of them got shit on south park mexican his the one representing us mexican and nobody else he’s still making hits from a Texas pen.he just dropped his second album from prison the last chair violinist it’s the shit no Latino Chicano or Mexican can step to my boy.SP

  • magnum

    malverde>>>

  • http://www.xxlmag.com/?p=30280 G.Money

    We sat down and we said that us working together will definitely improve relations because if they see us doing it then it just provides a better environment
    ________________________________________
    Got Daaaaaamn this dude is fucking whack.. Im from LA and the stupidity in a line like that is such bullshit.. nobody respects Game anymore, and Cruz? are you fucking kidding me? dudes record will drop Nevuary 33rd.. be on the lookout.. Cruz is ass.. biting big pun.. weak ass lookin like a bootleg pitbull

    • magnum

      pitbull is garbage,he dont even know how to rap! omar cruz ,got flow and lyrics for daysssss

  • O

    Niqqas is humma stuntin’ on my man, O Cruz. Son can rip shit down. His mixtapes was banging. But Pitbull’s straight basura, b. Talkin’ all that “culo” bullsh*t. That’s cause he’s a culero himself.

  • TheRefriedMexican

    Dude I’m Mexican and this dude hasn’t impressed one bit. Wasn’t his album supposed to be out for a while now? I don’t think he’s impressing the people that write the checks either, the record execs!
    P.S. Big Pun greatest Latino rapper ever!
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  • ZLOC

    aztec1 do u know SPM molested little girls thats why hes in prison do ur research fool.

    • aztec1

      z-loc everybody here in Texas especially in Houston knows that he is in there onsome bullshit charges they never had any evidence against him all it was ,all white jury panel (racist)they couldent stand for a Mexican to come up as fast as him , but his appieling the case so he will be out soon…trust me hater..he will be back just check out his new albulm…LAST CHAIR VAILINIST..

  • TheRefriedMexican

    I GOT ONE PREGUNTA(QUESTION)? WHERE’S THIS VATOS ALBUM? IVE HEARD A FEW OF HIS CUTS. I WOULD RATE THEM AVERAGE AT BEST. ENOUGH DELAYS. I DON’T WANNA HEAR HE’S DOPE OR HE’S WACK. JUST DROP THE F—-G ALBUM ALREADY AND LET ME JUDGE FOR MYSELF!
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  • Aztec1

    his albulm came out about last Tuesday I don’t know where u live but it should be out I already have it track 14 n 17 are the best ones but the whole cd is bumping

  • TheRefriedMexican

    I’m talking about a major label release, aztecUno? I’ve heard a few of his underground cuts. A couple of the songs had their moments but nuthing spectacular. I WENT BACK TO THE XXL ARCHIVES THEY. INTERVIEWED HIM IN MARCH. HE CLAIMED “ALBUM WAS GONNA BE OUT THIS SUMMER” WELL ITS ALMOST THANKSGIVING! Where’s the album?! Or might the label be delaying it because it’s not up to par?
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  • Verbal

    Doesnt it sound like OMAR CRUZ IS DICK RIDING PUN! If Pun was around now, he would str8 up shit on omar. dude shouldnt even bring up pun name in his interviews…str8 up jus pathetic

    DOWNLOAD BIG PUN LEGACY:
    http://tribalklik.com/punlegacy.html

    Listen to wut a real lyricist sounds like…BIG PUN FOREVER!

  • Evil 1

    Damn why youll acting like a bunch of haterz!
    Either yall a bunch of Viejas or u havent had your bollas droped!
    Thats why Mexican rappers stay underground because yo boy is trying to blow up and give Mexican rappers a name for the media world and yall shut em down with o he sucks or this other guy is better then him or other homo sexual comments!
    Man up! and support your jente!
    Keep doing your thang Cruz.
    Im down with any vato trying to go big no matter if its Omar Cruz , Lil Rob , SPM , Baby Bash or any other vato tring to go big. I got your Back!
    If your not doing a damn thang but criticsising your own jente then STFU!
    Think before you speak!
    By the way GAME is still the $hit just wait for his new RED album then Holla Back!

  • http://infiltratinggallata.blogspot.com Carla Lockwood

    Incredibly awesome post. Truely.

  • weezo

    you ignorante fuck’s have you even studied his street tapes like city of gods, blow,the cruzifiction,2007 b.c and hand of god? he is fucken more lyrical then 90 percent of these rappers, but ofcourse being latin in the industry is hard, and we aren’t acceppted this dude has some hard shit