Let's start at the beginning – how did your journey into the world of hip hop begin? Was there a
specific moment or artist that ignited your passion for music?
Big Cruz: My journey began when I was 15. I remember in high school I was always getting in trouble so I would go to detention a lot. When I was in detention you can’t really do anything for an hour, so you’re bored, I started writing poetry. The poetry was always something that I loved so writing it was easy. When I was in highschool I met someone who was a producer at my school he would always be making beats and I would always be writing and freestyling at the lunch tables. We clicked up and I hoped on one of his beats the very first time, I knew from that moment on that I could make music. I actually recorded my first ever song in my country of Albania.
That was the first step of me transpiring into hip hop.
J cole was actually the one who inspired me to have a passion for music. His mixtape Friday night lights was the reason I wanted to rap. He inspired me so much that I applied to the same University as him to follow the same footsteps he did that’s how influential Cole was to me at the time.
Tell us about your latest single and video Get LIT, what inspired you to shoot it in NYC? also what have you head space been like writing this single?
Big Cruz: Get Lit was a song that I Recorded in Miami at House of Hits. The song came about when I was riding thru Miami in a hemmi it was fast as hell. So when I was playing the beat in the car and just looking out the window seeing the water, the palm trees, etc.. that’s when I got inspired to write it in that moment. I wanted to shoot it in NYC because I had a vision for the video to be riding thru Brooklyn with a baddie inna Bentley it gave me that feel how I had in Miami. I talked to the director I hired and he also created some ideas as far as the treatment so we ran with it.
The path to success is often filled with challenges. Could you share a pivotal moment or obstacle you faced on your way to where you are now, and how you overcame it? Big Cruz: Oh yeah ive had so many I lost count haha but one of the most difficult moments I’ve faced on my way to where I am now was when I was living in LA 2019 up until early 2020. I had got signed to my first manager and they moved me to LA to work. We had a situation with UMPG we were about to ink a deal with them as a song writer. Right when we were getting ready to close the deal Covid 19 hit. It ruined everything in that moment. The person who was working for UMPG lost her position and she no longer could get us the deal we were trying to close. It killed me because I was broke at the time, I barley had money for McDonalds it really crushed me I was struggling. I had to end up moving back to DC and being on lock down. I started hustling again trynna make money how I knew best, I even got a part time job at the gym just to find some type of stability but yet that still wasn’t enough. As time went on I prayed. I prayed and prayed and prayed and just kept recording. I overcame that by keeping my faith high and believing in myself. I hadda stay down till I came up, that was always my motto. As time went on life changed for me and I got the opportunity to move back to NYC and ever since then I been blessed.
Many aspiring artists can relate to the hustle of early days. What was the first gig or performance that made you realize this was the path you wanted to pursue?
Big Cruz: The first gig that made me realize this was the path for me was when I preformed at my high school Pep rally my senior year hahahaha we had the whole school in there over 1000 kids and all the teachers. We had two principals one hated me but the other one loved me and she allowed me to preform. I still have videos from it to this day hahahaha it was crazy that’s when I knew this was the path I wanted and I never stopped chasing ever since.
Your growth as an artist must have been quite the ride. Can you pinpoint a milestone or project that you consider a turning point in your career? Big Cruz: When I dropped my Project “Win It All” I had a huge release party for it at fight club studios and was able to get the album on a billboard in Times Square, that’s when I considered a turning point in my career it made me feel like okay I know I’m right there I just gotta keep going.
Hip hop is deeply rooted in self-expression. How would you describe your artistry and the message you aim to convey through your music?
Big Cruz: The way I make music is very complex, I feel as though I am a very versatile artist I can make melodic records I can make records for the club I can also make hip hop records where I’m spitting straight bars. In my music the main thing I want people to take away is my power of lyrics. I am a storyteller I love to rap it’s literally my life. And I’m actually excited because on my upcoming project I have three records on their called “Dear Heaven” “Soldier” and “Devi” specifically where I am telling stories and I can’t wait for my fans to hear those records. My message is to always be you no matter what people say.
Every artist has a unique ritual to get in the zone. What's your pre-performance routine or creative ritual that helps you tap into your best energy? Big Cruz: Before a show Im not gonna lie I get a lot of anxiety. But what helps me get in the zone is my team, the people who are around me almost everyday. Good energy. Also I be getting fucked up off the shots hahahahaha I have to, i need my Don Julio. That’s the only way I calm my nerves down. On the way to any show I have I don’t drive also, I wanna be relaxed and in my zone so that’s usually how I get ready for any performance.
Collaboration is key in the music industry. Is there a fellow artist you've collaborated with who has left a lasting impact on your music or perspective?
Big Cruz: Yes, Joell Ortiz. I have been listening to Joell since I was a kid, he was one of the dopest Lyricist in my opinion , when I finally got the chance to work with him on our single “Cases” he changed my perspective on a lot of things. I learned that it doesn’t matter what is the hottest song or what type of wave is hot right now. He taught me about core fan bases and how if you have that then that’s more powerful that having people who are only here for the moment then gone.
With your achievements so far, it's clear you're destined for greatness. Can you share a glimpse of your vision for the future – where do you see yourself taking your music and career?
Big Cruz: I see myself at the MF TOP!!!!!! I want to be one of the greatest, I want to make timeless music, I have so many ideas in my head that I want to create and come alive I just know that its gonna take some time to do so. But I want to be one of the greatest and to inspire the youth. They are our future I wanna be the one that can inspire a young kid to chase his dreams and pursue his goals just like others have done to me when I was young.
Behind every great artist is a strong support system. Who has been your biggest inspiration or mentor along the way, and how have they influenced your journey?
Big Cruz: First of all I wanna say my mother, she has always been my biggest support system in LIFE not just in Music. With out her I don’t know where I would have been. But as far as mentors ive had a lot my OG from DC named Crosby has been a huge inspiration to me and has literally saved my life in many situations that I’m forever thankful for, he’s helped me change the way I think and how to eliminate the noise as you could say around me. Eliminate all distractions from my life. I have a path that’s different from yours or anyone else’s so I need to focus on my path and not worry about anyone else’s.
Lastly, imagine you're giving advice to your younger self – what words of wisdom would you share with aspiring artists who are just starting to carve their own path in hip hop?
Big Cruz: Please don’t fall for the tricks, please don’t fall for the traps, its so many people in this industry and not only that but in this world that will sell you a million dreams and say that they will change your life. The only person who will be able to change your life is you and only you. Trust the process doesn’t rush the process. Never tell anyone what you are doing until its done. Keep your circle small because you don’t know the power of jealousy and envy. Listen with your eyes not your ears. And always remember no matter what to stay true to yourself 100%.