Ever wondered what a West Coast Nuyorican rapper sounds like? Look no further than Quique Cruz, whose latest Quique's Rebellion: El Terrible Strikes Back drops lyrical references to both the Santa Ana ghetto and Hell's Kitchen. Built on ample doses of battle rhymes and political manifestos, the 14-track collection displays the Puerto Rican MC's breadth of talent. A veteran of the OC hip-hop scene, Cruz's natty roots go way back to the days of rockin' Koo's Cafe with his Youth International Party crew. He has worked with the likes of LMNO, 2Mex and Mr. Brady. Cruz is a capable producer and drops his Earth Bound Sound brand of beats throughout the new album to prove it. On mic duties, his flow stays smooths in the cut.
Whether it's the political diatribe of "Can't Stop the Resistance" on the album or the storytelling vibes of "Born & Raised," Quique Cruz will have you joining his rebellion.
On what "El Terrible" is striking back at:
"Well, I feel like I'm being attacked by the way the music industry is exploiting hip-hop. Since hip-hop is part of my very being, I take my craft very seriously. It's personal. I grew up with hip-hop all around me. I was born during the time that hip-hop was still in its infancy in the Lower East Side of Manhattan. I've watched it grow. I've watched it mature. And I've seen how it's been manipulated over the past couple decades. Like my main man, Buxaburn, says in one of his rhymes, "They tried to bite it, took it crooked and made it a mockery!" This album is my counter attack! My strike back! No punches pulled!"
On being in a New York state of mind in a California space and time:
"I moved to Santa Ana when I was 10 years old and I barely went back [to New York] for the first time in May of last year. Through all that time, I've always kept New York close to my heart. I feel like I have a unique perspective of hip-hop, being that I saw it when it was first poppin' off. I remember seeing dudes on the street spinnin 'on cardboard blasting the freshest new joint on their boom boxes. I remember walking into my project building and smelling the spray can vapors and the pissy elevators! [laughs] I remember hearing the park jams every Friday night jumpin'! I used to live across the street from my elementary school. That's where it all went down Friday and Saturday nights. I carry all those memories with me as I ride through the streets of Santa Ana, my home!"