Sac State alumnus turns making music into a business

Jay Cruz writes, performs, produces and DJs his own music


Eucario Calderon

Jay Cruz, Sac State alumnus, was photographed on Oct. 1 inside his home studio. Cruz is a music producer, rapper, singer, DJ, and entrepreneur based in Sacramento.

Jasmin Acosta

Sacramento State alumnus Jorge De La Cruz, known by his stage name Jay Cruz, has gone from playing music in his garage to performing on the big stage.

The Sacramento native and independent artist has successfully branded his name through his musical and business talent, making him one of the most rounded Latino artists in the industry, performing as a rapper, singer, DJ and music producer.

Cruz recently had his music included in two major Spotify playlists next to top Latin artists and performed his latest single “Me Perteneces a Mi” on one of the top-rated American Spanish-language networks, Univision.

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Cruz said he overcame the fear of failure and negative comments early on in his music career when he first started to DJ at house parties.

“When I was in high school I had to overcome the fear of getting laughed (at.) I had to be confident in myself and my craft,” Cruz said. “I took that same concept to Sac State but at a bigger scale. All I saw was a bigger pool to swim at.”

Cruz attended Sac State on the Lance D. Atkinson memorial scholarship, a full-ride scholarship based on his high school GPA and business skills, and graduated with a bachelor’s in business-marketing.

“I always tell students your biggest asset when you go to college is not the degree, the degree is a key to a door,” Cruz said. “Your (biggest asset) is that you are able to network with 30 plus thousand people, it’s up to you whether you do it or not.” 

Attending college runs in the family, as Cruz has a younger brother who is attending Sac State. Daniel De La Cruz, an economics major, talked about what it was like growing up with Cruz.

“Growing up we didn’t really have much except for our family. That’s why it means a lot to my parents that my brother and I are able to attend college,” Daniel said. “Jay has shown me that people like us can succeed.”

De La Cruz is also an alumnus brother of Latinx fraternity Nu Alpha Kappa, and was involved with many community service events through the fraternity. As an active member, Cruz also helped collaborate with other clubs on campus, something he said allowed him to network his music beyond his organization, DJing for non-profits, fundraisers and club events.

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Cruz currently works in marketing and media for the State of California, a job he said combines both his passions for music and business. 

As an artist with a full-time job, Cruz said he uses his music career as a business itself as well.

“There’s always time for what you want to do, it’s about sitting down and really outlining your schedule,” Cruz said. “When it’s business time, it’s business time. The time is there, it’s about if you’re really willing to do it.”

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Cruz said he makes it a priority to meet with current students and encourage them to start working toward their goals, sometimes offering up individualized strategies for doing so.

“I like to go back and help other students that are in business and media,” Cruz said. “I always make sure I go back to talk to them about their aspirations to find ways I can help them reach those goals.” 

Cruz records music in both Spanish and English in different genres such as hip-hop, rhythm and blues and reggaeton. Cruz said his control of both languages is what he believes sets him apart from other artists.

“I think it’s rare seeing someone that can really control both languages, that can write their own lyrics and make their own beats and music from scratch,” Cruz said.

Cruz has his own recording studio where he produces everything involved with his music, including song lyrics, beats and album designs.

Kaye-L, an artist that worked with De La Cruz, said “Jay Cruz’s work ethic is phenomenal. Not too many can work full circle like Jay. From producing, to writing and mixing his own tracks and even DJing. Undeniably one of the hardest working guys I know and it shows in everything he does.” 

Cruz has also worked closely with Sacramento Kings DJ, Eddie Z. 

“Jay always comes through with clever ways to entertain and engage with the crowd,” Z said. “That makes the DJ’s job easy.” 

Cruz is currently working on an EP (Extended Play) that he says will be releasing soon in both English and Spanish, fully produced by himself.