Season 6 of Netflix hit series Orange Is the New Black will kick off July 27. In the meantime, our favorite orange-clad “inmate,” Jackie Cruz — who plays Flaca on the show — has been busy in her alter ego mode, cultivating her music career.
“The music is my own separate thing [from Orange Is the New Black],” says Cruz, who last month self-released her first single, “La Hora Loca,” a bilingual mix of mambo, rap and boogaloo that’s plain fun. The track pays homage to Cruz’s Dominican roots in many ways. The “hora loca,” or crazy hour, refers to a Latin tradition of reviving parties past midnight with carnival-like revelry.
But the song is also an ode to Cruz’s family, beginning with the opening call: “Melba! Traeme el café! (Melba, bring me my coffee!)” It’s meant to be Cruz’s grandfather, who every afternoon shouted out to her grandmother Melba and asked for his coffee.
“It’s an homage to my abuela Melba. She would work all day, and he would still ask her for her coffee. I remember being 4 years old and hearing him. And she always got him the coffee. She defended him until he died.”
After that initial nod to machismo, Cruz gets down to business in the chorus, saying: “If you want me again, you gon' have to work.”
It’s personal, says Cruz.
“I know I’m fly. I have money. Right now, I need someone with the same mentality.”
Cruz found that someone in Feefa, her music producer, who she says helped her find her sound.
“He sat me in a room as big as a closet , and we just listened to music. He started coming up with beats, and slowly and surely we started to create the sound.”
The sound will veer in many directions; the next single, “Sweet 16,” is a bluesy ballad, for example.
“I don’t feel like I belong anywhere, so I want to make music for the kids like me,” says Cruz. “I want to make bilingual music. I really don’t want to say, 'What’s my genre?' My genre is my life. Everything is going to blend well but will also describe who I am and what I grew up listening to.”
As for abuela Melba, she’s still very much around. “I’m trying to get her in the video,” Cruz says with a laugh.
Check out “La Hora Loca” here: