A report by Lori Abbotts for the Virgin Islands Daily News.
Breaking into the music scene takes a lot of persistence, talent and more than just a little luck, but Latin Caribbean singer, songwriter and producer Cruz Rock has paid his dues and is reaping the rewards. With his new release “Be Mine,” featuring Jamaican artist Beenie Man, Cruz Rock has come out with what may be his biggest hit yet.
Frankie Garcia, aka Cruz Rock, was born and raised on St. Croix and is of Trinidadian and Puerto Rican descent. A graduate of Central High School, he credits the sacrifices made by his mother Reola Garcia, whom he calls his biggest supporter, for going on to graduate from Columbus College of Arts and Design in Ohio, where he studied industrial design with a minor in graphic design.
Despite studying art, music was always there in the background. His father Reynaldo and uncles were in a soca band. His mother sang in church and his sister Melissa Garcia sang in talent shows and pageants. His love of reggae comes from his brother Reynaldo.
It was during his college years that Cruz Rock really honed his musical talents.
“While I was in school, I became sort of a celebrity at talent shows at school,” he said. “That’s where I made my first song when I was a freshman, with my roommate. Everyone started drawing the reference of me being like Sean Paul, the reggae singer. It started out like that, and then I did some shows in Ohio. People wanted to manage me and take me on tours, and it started to come so fast, because I never really thought I was going to be a musician. I thought I was going to be an artist, a painter.”
After graduation, Cruz Rock worked for MTV Tempo, struggling to repay college tuition loans. There he met some celebrities at the concerts and events he worked, and ended up creating designs for artists such as Shaggy and Junior Reid.
Cruz Rock released his first video, “Joy,” which he completed in New York, and it was gaining traction in the Caribbean when he returned to St. Croix in 2009. The next two years were a time of fast-paced change.
Cruz Rock worked at St. Croix’s Avis before hooking up with his manager and co-producer Errol “Ajanie” Williams to open up a club called Jam Time and getting enough money together to release his first album “Temperature Rise.” The title song, featuring Jahnesta, made it on the Top 100 Singles in the Digicel Charts and on the Nikki Z Top Caribbean Countdown. He was at No. 1 in the L3 Magazine chart in Canada with the song “People Ah Cry” and was their No. 1 breakout new artist.
His second album, “Soul Rebel,” came out four years later. He placed at No. 8 in Italy with the song “In the Spirit” featuring Midnite, and the album won Best Reggae Album in the Indie Music Awards.
“’In the Spirit’ was the big song on the album, and that got me into Germany, France, Holland, all of these big countdowns and shows,” Cruz Rock said. “That award for the album and being named one of the hottest new artists on Reggaeville, the biggest reggae website and magazine, took me to where I’m at now.”
“With Soul Rebel,” Cruz Rock began to “dabble into my heritage,” including some Spanish songs on the album.
“That’s where everything starts to change now, because I started to blow up within the Latin world, because I was experimenting with the Spanish music and it started to get a buzz,” he said. “That turned into me slipping everything and me turning into a Latin reggae artist now.”
In 2018, he went on tour in South America and was nominated for best new artist at the Luna Music Awards.
Back from touring, Cruz Rock started working on new material, and leaning on his Latin influences, he decided to remake the Buy Out “riddim” (an instrumental accompaniment to a song), originally recorded by multi-platinum producer and artist Tony Kelly, for the single “Be Mine,” singing in Spanish. The song caught the attention of not only Tony Kelly, but also multi-platinum Grammy award winning Jamaican dancehall reggae artist Beenie Man, who, after hearing the initial recording, wanted to sing on it as well.
“Beenie Man sang on the song and he sent it back, and everyone was so excited, going crazy, popping bottles, and the next thing you know, COVID hits,” Cruz Rock said. “We’re over here losing our minds, and the song is in limbo and we have to get all these clearances from Universal Records and we can’t get anyone on the phone. So, we’re sitting on this song and it’s not going anywhere for six months.”
Once clearances were signed off on and Universal Records Polygram gave them a publishing deal for the song, the next step was to produce a video. However, because of COVID-19 shut downs, Beenie Man couldn’t leave Jamaica. A couple of days before Jamaica opened up, Cruz Rock’s nephew, Zion Garcia, 21, was murdered. The video was put on hold for the funeral. They decided on a September date for the shoot, but a week before Cruz Rock was scheduled to head to Jamaica, Beenie Man’s mother passed away, delaying the shoot even further.
Despite the hurdles, the “Be Mine” video was finally completed and was released last week.
“’Be Mine’ is one of the hottest songs in the Caribbean right now,” said Cruz Rock. “It’s really blowing up. It’s probably going to be the biggest song in the Caribbean in the next couple of weeks. It’s a big deal having my name attached to such a big project 20 years later since the original riddim, and having Beenie Man on the song is so big, it has just skyrocketed the song. In the month of December, we should be up to a million streams on Spotify and iTunes. There shouldn’t be anyone on the island that doesn’t know the song.”