Published: July 27, 2012
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Mixing natural reggae, one-drop reggae and dancehall, St. Croix performer Cruz Rock is starting to gain attention far beyond the Virgin Islands and has landed on top of a Canadian magazine's music chart.
After first being spotted in June by L3 Magazine's Natasha "Independent Tash" Thomas, Cruz Rock now holds the top spot in the online magazine's "Break Out Caribbean Artists" chart with "People Ah Cry."
Off his album "Temperature Rise," "People Ah Cry" was written in reaction to the January killing of Kendall Petersen Jr. in Frederiksted.
Petersen was shot by officers executing a search warrant as part of a murder investigation.
According to police, they saw a man holding a gun run from Petersen's home and flee around the corner of the building. The man then "doubled back and began advancing toward the police officers."
Failing to respond to calls to stop, officers fired on Petersen and killed him.
"Petersen was executed in his yard, he was a good friend of a lot of people I know," said Frankie Garcia, who goes by the stage name Cruz Rock.
"People kept asking me to make a song, make a song."
Cruz Rock didn't set out for commercial success with "People Ah Cry," which is set to rhythms by Frenchie's "Skateland Killer."
"The whole thing was emotional, we weren't making any money," Cruz Rock said.
Like the tragedy that drove the creation of "People Ah Cry," Cruz Rock said it is the hardships seen in places like St. Croix and Jamaica that drive reggae music.
"We all come from the ghettos," Cruz Rock said. "It is easy for us to sing what reggae music relates to - the separation in the world, the triumphs, the uplifting."
Even though St. Croix might be struggling with the recent closure of HOVENSA, Garcia is certain it is the place he needs to be.
Even though he was working for the TEMPO network in New York, Garcia said it was almost impossible to get noticed before he returned to St. Croix.
"I realized people loved the music from the islands, but they didn't understand what we were saying," Cruz Rock said. "I realized the guys who were blowing up went home. It was easier to make it from where they were because people respected their talent."
Coming home to St. Croix has allowed Cruz Rock easier access to radio and helped him build a fan base, he said.
Having been noticed - earning spots on TEMPO's countdown and on Jamaica's Digicel chart - Cruz Rock is now preparing for a stateside tour.
Before his Temperature Rise tour takes him to venues across the U.S., V.I. fans of Cruz Rock still have a chance to see him perform during the Aug. 11 V.I. Idol finals.