Spotlight

Oscar Cortez: Meet Rising Corridos Star, Switching Gears w/ Latin Drill Music

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Oscar Cortez

Meet Rising Corridos Star

A melodic street poet, Oscar Cortez is a special talent representing the Mexican genre of Corridos, but with his own take, trademarked as Corridos Callejeros. The Corridos that many fans have come to know is a bit different from the music that Oscar Cortez makes, as the rising star adds his own flavor by taking listeners on journey through his eyes and his experiences of growing up in East Los Angeles.

Representing the streets that he was surrounded by and grew accustomed to, along with music being universal as there is a neighborhood and a street that has the same old story, Oscar Cortez’s unique gift has led his music to travel long from the Southern California section of East Los Angeles where he grew up to reaching fans from numerous communities in both the United States and in Mexico.

While building a career through Corridos music, a career of numerous hits that began right before the global pandemic, Oscar Cortez has now switched lanes and has entered the Latin Drill music scene after linking with SpyBoii through their latest creation “Nada Fue Regalado.”

oscar cortez

Oscar Cortez & SpyBoii – Nada Fue Regalado

Orange County’s “Strength Cartel” street artist SpyBoii and Los Angeles Corridos Callejeros artist Oscar Cortez deliver a powerful vocal performance on one of the first Drill songs by Mexican American artists. Together with producer Aser Sound, the artists composed, produced and recorded this track from scratch in a spontaneous session the day they met. 

And even though the Drill style is a form of Trap music lyrically characterized by its violent content, “Nada Fue Regalado” conveys a positive message about getting ahead regardless of the efforts of others to stop you.

SpyBoii, Oscar Cortez – Nada Fue Regalado (Official Music Video)

Meet and Get to Know Oscar Cortez

Kulture Vulturez: Let’s get to know you a little better. You grew up in East Los Angeles?

Oscar Cortez: Yeah. Born and raised in East Los Angeles. Still currently living here. But my mom is from Chihuahua, Mexico, and my father is from Jalisco.

Kulture Vulturez: What was life like for you growing up?

Oscar Cortez: Well, it was kind of tough at the time. Growing up, there was a lot of gang violence in my neighborhood. So we had to kind of deal with that. But I was always drawn to music. I was always drawn to music. That was kind of like my escape from all that, like street ventures and all that. But I did grow up around it. I do speak on it in my music, because one man once told me the best story to tell is the one you know.

That’s where I started that line, street music Corridos Callejeros, which is not your typical classic narcocorrido from Mexico, that we’re accustomed to listen to.  We definitely give it a twist, knowing that we come from both from both cultures, representing both flags, Mexico and America. It was very important and powerful for me to implement that in my music.

Kulture Vulturez: What were your earliest memories of being introduced to music? When can you say you fell in love with music?

Oscar Cortez: Well, I fell in love with music since the day I was born, I would say. I grew up in that ambient of music due to my father being in a band. My dad was a drummer. So, when I was a kid, I grew up around music. My dad had a band, and instead of toys, I remember having instruments like the little baby keyboards with lights and all that. I remember having all that stuff at eight years old. That’s when I learned my first song, which was “Tragos Amargos,” a classic for us Hispanics. It’s a classic. I’m not sure if you have heard it.

“Tragos Amargos,” it’s like a Mexican anthem type of thing. So, at eight years old, I was playing the piano. That was my first instrument, and I really got attached from eight years old on. But throughout my childhood, like I mentioned, I was always around music. I had that vibe to music, I was drawn to it in general. I would say that when I turned eight years old and I learned how to play that song just by hearing it and and trying to figure it out, and doing so pumped me up. It motivated me to learn more songs. And from there, it was it was just all up hill.

Oscar Cortez – La Cadillac (Video Official)

Kulture Vulturez: How could you break down your start in music professionally?

Oscar Cortez: I had my big break when I turned, I want to say it was like 2017, 2018, probably 23 years old is when I met some people at a record label, and that’s kind of where it all began, [my] professional career. Prior to that, I was playing in like backyard boogies. So, I was very active. Thank God I always had to work in the Spanish scene. Like I said, I was playing already in my dad’s band at the age of 13. I kind of did a few years of playing in backyard boogies, playing in quinceañeras, playing wherever I could go and perform.

Sometimes I would even play for free right here at the community church. They had a big La Jamaica, a big festival every year, and I would do anything to get my foot in the door. Wherever I could showcase my music. But my professional career, I would say, definitely started when I was like 23, when I decided to go solo. That’s when I kind of started making a name for myself and really accomplishing goals, checking off those boxes.

We’re still not a quarter away where we want to be, but definitely we’re headed in the right direction and very happy to do so. But at the age of 23, that’s when we decided to go solo and start a new endeavor.

Kulture Vulturez: What have been some of your biggest roadblocks that you faced?

Oscar Cortez: You know what, roadblocks, I feel like in general, well many, but one of the biggest roadblocks that I can remember right now was kind of the pandemic with the whole shutdown. I was very fresh into the music scene. Like I said, I had just started my my professional career and getting number one on iTunes, high placements and all that stuff and touring, like I mentioned in 2019. One of the biggest roadblocks, though, was that.

The pandemic kind of just stole a lot of the good things that were happening. I know I wasn’t the only artist affected. I mean, internationally, worldwide, everybody was kind of affected. But that’s something that really stuck out for me right now.

Kulture Vulturez: How can you explain your overall genre of music and your style?

Oscar Cortez: Well, like I said, I grew up in that Mexican head of household with that Mexican culture. But I also grew up listening to hip hop and rap, all that late 90s, early 2000s hip hop. I feel like my line of Corridos is a breed between those two that we try to implement. It’s kind of like Spanish rap to my ears. I always like to say it like that, call it out like Spanish rap to my ears in the Corridos format.

I definitely think I grabbed on from both genres and try to make something very distinctive. That’s where that street vibe goes into and that L.A. culture. Still with the classic instrumentation of the Corridos, accordion and bajo sexto, which are some key elements for the typical corrido that we all listen to and we all know.

Oscar Cortez – Lucias (Video Oficial)

Kulture Vulturez: Do you feel Corridos is popular out here in America compared to Mexico?

Oscar Cortez: Absolutely. I think it’s popular in both places, you know. My biggest fanbase is in Mexico, but I do have a large fanbase out here in the United States. The kind of genre that we develop, we call it Corridos Callejeros, and it has worked for us. So that’s like that’s the line that we go by. It’s like a mixture. It’s a mixture of hip hop culture with your Corridos.

Kulture Vulturez: Is there a difference between Latin rap and urban Latin music in America compared to Mexico?

Oscar Cortez: Yeah, there is some difference. I would say it’s the instrumentations that’s different because to my ears music is a universal language. I would say music is music. It’s all stories, it’s all flow, it’s all energy of music. I feel in the instrumentation that’s where it might be a little divided. It’s easier to distinguish, if that makes sense. But it’s all under like the same big umbrella, like I said, music is music, but it is very distinguished to my ear.

Kulture Vulturez: What has been all the music that have you been dropping this year?

Oscar Cortez: So this year, yeah, we’ve been dropping a few singles. We’re actually getting ready to put a release date for the EP that we’ve been working on. Yeah, just hungry. Active again, like I said, coming off the pandemic. We went into 100% independent now and kind of just shooting up different avenues. We’re trying this Latin Drill right now, which is something that’s very, very new to me. Kind of tapping into a different culture. Having fun with it. Having fun and enjoying the process.

Kulture Vulturez: Breakdown your new song with SpyBoii, the Latin Drill record “Nada Fue Regalado”?

Oscar Cortez: So, we were actually in the studio. The day we met is the day we dropped this track. Our boy Aser, the producer, he actually introduced us to drill music. He had a beat there, we kind of vibe to it, me and SpyBoii. So, I was kind of cool. Like I said, in the matter of a few hours, we had a record ready to go. First hearing the beat, we implement a few little notes that went with the hook, so it’s all more uniformed.

Yeah, it was a vibe. I’m happy for it. I’m really excited. It’s doing really good right now on YouTube. It’s something different, Latin, because it’s Spanish, but drill. I know drill is very popular overseas and all that, in different areas, but something we haven’t really tapped into. So, that’s pretty exciting on our end, you know.

Oscar Cortez – Me Fui Alejando (Video Official)

Kulture Vulturez: What have been your most memorable or standout moments in your career, so far?

Oscar Cortez: I’ve always set out goals for myself, but as a kid I remember wanting to perform in the Microsoft Theater, and we did that in 2019 for a big corrido event in the city of L.A. It’s a big venue, and kind of like, ‘damn, everything’s coming along.’ That was kind of like a milestone, if that makes any sense. I’ve met a lot of great people throughout this journey, which I’m very blessed and thankful for. But yeah bro, we are still hungry. Like I said, we’re not a quarter away where we want to be. I feel like we’re still barely getting started, bro. Barely getting started, you know.

Kulture Vulturez: Of all the songs and projects you released, what have been the ones that standout. Ones that showcase you best as an artist?

Oscar Cortez: You know what I did release at the end of last year, 2021, “Me Fui Alejando.” A very powerful song, kind of talks a little bit about my life, like with the struggle, sometimes you think about giving up and all that. But at the end of the song it turns around and finds some motivation and empowerment and keep on going, keep on grinding. So, that’s the song that really impacted me.

It kind of had to do with that big break, too, that we did with the pandemic and all that. Stuff wasn’t going my way and kind of like you hit a barrier, you hit a blockade, you know what I’m saying. So, I wrote that song. Definitely was in my feelings at the time. Something really that sticks out right now. And that’s empowerment for other people, too.

Kulture Vulturez: What is your thought process or creative process when it comes to song making?

Oscar Cortez: Man, I don’t know, bro. It’s just all so natural. I’m the type of artist that [does not sit down and write], I mean, I could sit down and start writing a song, but it just has to be in the moment. Inspiration happens at its wildest times. There’s no really process what I do. I do like to start with off with the melodies, with the beats.  I may be driving or something, and I’ll start hitting that voice recorder. [Hit] that voice memo recorder and start doing ideas.

Then when I do come into the studio, I implement some of that. I already kind of got a beat cooking, get the guitar, start throwing down some bars. I do like to freestyle, though. When I write Corridos, when I have a beat, I record myself and I probably record like 5 or 6 minutes of the ideas that I have and just kind of flowing with it. Then I’ll kind of trace back and start building a song or see what lines I like. It just depends, there’s different times that I do different techniques. It just happens at the moment, you know.

Kulture Vulturez: Following this release, what is next for you as an artist?

Oscar Cortez: That EP brother, that EP, and planning to go on tour again. Planning to showcase all this new music that we’ve been cooking up. Now, being independent, I did open up my own record label. I’m helping, I’m seeking and helping out talent. That’s a very big avenue that we’re driving by right now. We’re trying to grow not only as an artist, but as a record label. Kind of learned the business side of music a little bit. We’re pushing the issue, trying to grow this thing, you know.

Kulture Vulturez: That’s about it for me, anything else you would like to let the readers know?

Oscar Cortez: Nah, brother, we’re pretty much solid. Mr. Ace (Oscar Cortez’s manager), have any words for us?

Ace Gomez (Oscar Cortez’s Manager): That’s kind of been one of [Oscar Cortez’s] thing right now, he’s doing new things with his music but he’s also starting his new label, which is going to be a whole other aspect of his career. Because he’s an artist, but now he’s also a businessman. So, it’s going to be really good to watch him grow on that aspect. Who knows, we might not just do regional Mexican, and might do some more drill.

Oscar Cortez: A little bit of everything, brother. We’re always open to try new things. That’s one of the things that I like, now being independent as well we could go different ways and try new things without anybody holding you back or setting you back.

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