Cuco

Para Mi (Interscope/Polydor)

Omar Banos, better known as Cuco, has seen a steady and impressive rise since he first burst onto the scene a couple of years ago. He spent the latter part of his teens crooning gorgeous ballads and breaking unsuspecting hearts. By the end of the summer of 2017, “Lo Que Siento” was earning him 350,000 monthly listeners on Spotify and we were justifiably referring to him as a bona fide teen heart throb.

He was amazing at Coachella 2018, which saw him pull in more fans still, and it feels like he’s on the crest of something very big indeed. For that reason, this major label Para Mi album takes on extra importance. Is Cuco ready to cross that line from “bubbling under” to national (or indeed international) star?

We think so. What’s telling on first listen to the album is that Cuco seems to have taken everything that we know him for up to this point — the smooth Latin jazz influences with a nostalgic lean, the innate desire to express his emotions without fear — and rolled it all into a very stylized, pop-R&B package. That’s not an insult, by the way. Far from it. This is the sound of a young artist evolving, adjusting and learning.

“It’s cool to be in your feelings and it’s cool to be sad and it’s cool to feel all of these things,” he told us in 2017. “If you want to be expressive about something, do it. If you want to keep something to yourself, keep it to yourself. I have my own ways, people have theirs.”

The addition of major label representation has done nothing to temper those ideals. Just listen to lead off song “Keeping Tabs” (with rapper Suscato), and the way it rolls into “Bossa No Sé” (featuring Jean Carter). Then there’s “Feelings,” which includes the lines, “Get carried away and tell me the things you feel, Just don’t look away, the feeling here is so real, It’s just you and I, floating away in space, Don’t worry ’bout them, they’ll all go away some day.”

This is Cuco at his introspective best, the same Cuco we’ve been listening to around L.A. for a couple of years, but with some added industry push behind him. Now watch him fly.

(Interscope/Polydor)