Noticing his talent, Scarface courted him for Def Jam South, Nelly courted him and so did other labels, but it was Warner where he decided to take his place. Cruna is currently preparing to release "A Hustla'z Story" properly.
MVRemix: Was singing something that came naturally or were you taught?
Cruna: Yeah, it's a god given gift. I was born with it.
MVRemix: How did you end up honing it?
Cruna: I've been workin' at it since I knew I could do it. All the time... My brother and my cousins were always the best singers in the family so I used to sing to compete with them. If they did something, I would pracitce real hard to do what they did. So for honing my skills I've got to give that to my brother and my family.
MVRemix: How did the moniker Cruna arise?
Cruna: I studied the icons and the pioneer's of the game. The Smokey Robinson's and Marvin Gaye's. I studied their writings and the songs that they sing. I kind of felt like it's the perfect name for me because that's what I do. Crooner means singer so it fit me so well that it had to be.
MVRemix: What's your first memory of soul?
Cruna: Wow. I bring it up all the time. I think I was like nine or ten years old, standing up in church singing. I could really feel their body language; the screaming and the "Hallelujahs" and things of the sort that I was receiving from singing the gospel music. I felt that I was touching other people. So that's when I really felt that I could do this.
MVRemix: Who served as influences for you growing up?
Cruna: My dad. My dad Julius Mitchell. He's the greatest man in the world to me, he's my hero. And, he's a great singer.
MVRemix: Was there one album you listened to above all others growing up?
Cruna: Yeah, growin' up I listened to BBD [laughs] more than anybody. Bel Biv Devoe.
MVRemix: Tell me about "A Hustla'z Love Story"
Cruna: "A Hustla'z Love Story." Well we all know what a "hustler" is. A hustler is someone that has got to get up, get out and do something to make sure business is handled; self-business and home-business. The financial, and making sure that the loved one that they have is comfortable and also, the love story part of it is the love that you have for yourself and the love that you have for the person you're with. I'm just giving you my perspective and my personal experiences on this album.
MVRemix: Can you tell me about any guests/producers on the album?
Cruna: I didn't actually get any features from any other singers or rappers - the album is 100% me, all singing. I didn't use any big fish that you could call producers that I could get on this album because I wanted people to see and hear my talent. I kind of feel good by knowing that I'm coming in the game, standing on my own two feet. Instead of everybody saying I've come in the game on somebody else's coat tails.
MVRemix: If you had to compare the album to a certain clothing label or luxury car, which would you choose and why?
Cruna: Clothing, if I were to put my music with clothing - I would have to put it up there with Prada or Louis Vuitton because its been there for a long time, but the legend still goes by a new attitude and new looks. If I was to have to go with a car, I would have to say Cadillac or Lincoln because these cars are built to list and they're with the style and the grace that they have on the road - it's what I put into my music.
MVRemix: During your incarceration, what made you choose to pursue music?
Cruna: Two years before I was released, my business partner and C.E.O. of Cross Tracks Entertainment, Jazz... He gave me some eye contact like no other. He says "Man, look - we're not gonna get in no more trouble. When we get out of here, we're gonna take this to the top." Being where we were at - we were in prison, this man looked into my eyes and said "We're gonna go to the top" from the bottom of the barrel, for me it was amazing. That was it and the rest is history.
MVRemix: What made you decide to sign to Warner as opposed to Def Jam South or Nelly's label?
Cruna: Warner Brothers wanted Cruna's vision too, the others just wanted Cruna and them just putting him out as the artist they want him to be. Warner Brothers see's Cross Track's view on the music industry. We want to put out music that the whole world can really see. We wanna talk about issues that need to be talked about. We wanna tell you not just "I love you," we wanna tell you why we love you or why we don't love you, or whatever the case may be. We want to give you the real facts on it.
MVRemix: Originally there was an underground release "The Hustler's Love Story," how does this differ from the version that will be released?
Cruna: Different songs and growth because I never stopped doing what I was doing. We sold the first one out of our trunks and we were just pitchin' them out there. Some we were givin' away but we were hittin' the south real hard and fortunately it ended up in the right hands.
MVRemix: How would you compare the R&B today with that of yesteryear?
Cruna: The attitude and the passion that the yesteryear had is not here today except for artists like John Legend, Fantasia, Lyfe Jennings and myself. We're the artists that are keeping that soul alive that's laid out for us.
MVRemix: What's your favourite memory of time spent with Scarface thus far?
Cruna: Oh yeah man! Uncle Face is really like an Uncle to guys in the industry, you know? He teaches you a lot. Though the business between me and him didn't pan out, he's still like an Uncle to me. He never give you any bad advice on anything that you do in the game. The same for Nelly, though that didn't pan out with him, he was still a friend and I can honestly call Nelly a friend because he did what he said he was gonna do.
MVRemix: A la "Fight Club," "If you could fight any celebrity, who would you fight?"
Cruna: [ponders] If I could fight anybody... If I could fight anybody... What's his name? Bobcat Goldthwait.
MVRemix: And why would you fight him?
Cruna: Because of that "Whaauurryaaaer" - that really annoys me.
MVRemix: Would you win?
Cruna: [chuckles] I don't know. I've never underestimated a man before. When I did, I got my ass kicked. [laughs heartily]
MVRemix: How do you feel the U.S. Government has dealt with Hurricane Katrina?
Cruna: I don't have a solution to what could be done, but I know there's something better that we could do. I kind of feel like the President can sit there in his oval office, look at a TV screen and tell you how many people are in a building in Iraq - but he can't vacate tens of thousands of people from New Orleans? I don't understand that.
MVRemix: Aside from the album, what else have you been working on? Guest appearances, compilations etc.
Cruna: I had two different songs in two different movies last year. The movie "Cook Out," I wrote the opening song for the movie "Cook Out." "A Hustla'z Love Story" that's the title song off the album was in "Never Die Alone," the only original song written for that soundtrack. I have Sharissa's second single. R. Kelly has her first, mine is "I Got Love" which is being played right now.
MVRemix: Any last words for your fans or potential fans?
Cruna: Let them know that I'm here to bring good music all the time, every time you hear me. And what they hear on CD is what they're gonna hear live.
Lâ€™Orange and Stik Figa â€“ The City Under The City album review
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