Taio Cruz

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Taio Cruz
Cruz performing in 2011
Background information
Birth name Jacob Taio Cruz
Born (1985-04-23) 23 April 1985 (age 29)
London, England
Genres Pop
Occupation(s) Singer-songwriter, record producer, rapper, entrepreneur
Years active 2006–present
Labels Rokstarr Entertainment Division, Island, Republic, Mercury (US)
Associated acts Nitin Sawhney, Kesha, Kylie Minogue, Ludacris, David Guetta, McFly, Travie McCoy, Tinie Tempah, Flo Rida, Pitbull
Website TaioCruz.Com

Jacob Taio Cruz (born 23 April 1985), known professionally as Taio Cruz (Portuguese: [ˈtaj.ju ˈkɾujʃ]), is a British singer-songwriter, record producer, occasional rapper and entrepreneur.[1] In 2008, he released his debut album Departure, which he wrote, arranged and produced himself. It achieved initial success in the United Kingdom and earned him a MOBO Award nomination.

In October 2009, Cruz released his follow-up album Rokstarr, which includes the number one singles "Break Your Heart" and "Dynamite". Cruz has collaborated with Kesha and Fabolous on the single "Dirty Picture", as well as Kylie Minogue and Travie McCoy on his single "Higher". Additionally, Cruz penned and recorded the song "Telling the World" as the lead single from the soundtrack to the 2011 animated film Rio. Cruz's third studio album, TY.O, was first released in Germany in December 2011. In 2012, Cruz co-wrote the David Guetta song "Without You". Cruz will release his fourth studio album #Black in 2015.


Early life and career beginnings[edit]

Cruz was born in London, to a Nigerian father and a Brazilian mother.[2] He attended Bilton Grange, a private prep school in Rugby, Warwickshire,[3] and Christ's Hospital, a boarding school in Horsham, West Sussex.[4][5]

Cruz began writing songs when he was 12. His songwriting career began at age 19 as part of Tricky Stewart's writing collective, RedZone Entertainment.[6] Cruz achieved notability in 2005 when he was awarded a Brit Award for co-writing Will Young's 2004 single, "Your Game".[7]

Cruz is the founder and chief executive of Rokstarr Music London, which in 2006 released his debut single "I Just Wanna Know". The single attracted significant attention from radio, and also from music industry insiders, who were already well aware of the artist's potential; manager Jamie Binns, who began representing Cruz at this time, later told HitQuarters: "He was a guy that everyone had earmarked to do damage in the future".[8] Although the single received a reasonable amount of radio airplay, it did not perform as well as expected in either territory.[8] However, rather than lose faith in Cruz, the labels were eager to negotiate an album deal, as by this time they had listened to his other songs and were ever more convinced by his capability.[8]

Cruz's admirers included Island Records's Darcus Beese and Monte Lipman, who, according to Binns, "both believed 'I Just Wanna Know' fitted the format on both sides of the Atlantic".[8] In 2006, Cruz signed a split single deal with Universal Music Group companies, Republic Records and the UK branch of Island Records.

2007–08: Departure[edit]

In September 2007, Cruz released his second single "Moving On", which made the top 30 in the UK. In March 2008 his next single, "Come On Girl", featuring Luciana, peaked at No. 5 on the UK charts. The related album Departure appeared on 17 March and peaked at No. 17.[9][10] This was followed by the single "I Can Be", which reached No. 18 in May. On 18 August, "She's Like a Star" was released, which was a remix of the previous single and featured American rapper Busta Rhymes and girl-group Sugababes. The remix later appeared on the Sugababes studio album Catfights & Spotlights, which peaked at No. 20. It was later revealed that Cruz narrowly missed out on the chance to record the song "Umbrella" which was eventually recorded by Rihanna and ended up topping charts around the world.[6]

2009–2011: Rokstarr, international breakthrough and The Rokstarr Collection[edit]

Cruz at Tup Tup Palace nightclub, Newcastle upon Tyne, UK. 2009.

Cruz was featured on Tinchy Stryder's breakout single "Take Me Back" which peaked at No. 3 in the UK Singles Chart. According to Cruz's official Myspace blog, as of 1 January 2009, Rokstarr Music London officially changed its name to Rokstarr Entertainment Division and abbreviated to R.E.D Inc. During 2009, he worked on his follow-up album entitled Rokstarr.[11] It was released on 12 October through R.E.D Inc./Island Records and is written and produced by Cruz, with co-writes and co-productions predominantly with UK producer Fraser T Smith. The album's lead single "Break Your Heart" was released on 14 September and reached number one in the UK, where it stayed for three weeks.[9] At the 2010 Brit Awards, "Break Your Heart" was nominated for Best British Single.[12] The success of the song attracted the attention of David Massey and Daniel Werner from Mercury/Island Def Jam who were excited and aggressive about releasing "Break Your Heart" in the United States on their label.[8] According to Cruz's manager Jamie Binns, the relationship with Monte Lipman at Universal Republic had "gone a bit quiet" by this point and as Taio wanted to be with the label that was most enthusiastic about his music, a move from Universal Republic to Mercury/Island Def Jam was engineered.[8]

The single reached the top spot in the United States for one week on the Billboard Hot 100.[13] In an interview with The Guardian, it was stated that "Cruz was clever to have hooked up with a US rapper Ludacris on his breakthrough hit".[14] In order to introduce Cruz into the U.S. market, David Massey had suggested that the single feature an American rapper with chart credibility.[8] The album spawned two other UK singles, "No Other One", and the top-ten hit "Dirty Picture" featuring American electropop singer Kesha. The album's fourth single (second in the United States) titled "Dynamite" debuted at 26[13] and peaked at number two on the U.S. Billboard Hot 100.[15] At the 2011 Brit Awards, "Dynamite" was nominated for Best British Single, and at the 2011 Billboard Music Awards the song won three Billboard Awards, including Top Hot 100 Song.[16][17]

Rokstarr was followed by the compilation album The Rokstarr Collection which includes songs both from Departure and the international version of Rokstarr.[18] Cruz later released four versions of his single "Higher"—one featuring Kylie Minogue, one featuring Travie McCoy, one featuring both, and one with just himself.

Cruz has also been featured on the soundtrack of American reality TV series Jersey Shore.[19]

2011–12: TY.O[edit]

Main article: TY.O

In March 2011, Cruz premiered an all-new song called "Telling the World", which was written by Cruz and Alan Kasiyre for the Rio soundtrack. The track was not featured on any of Cruz's prior studio albums.[20] On 23 May 2011, Cruz received his first Billboard Award in the United States. He announced onstage that his third album, entitled Black and Leather, would be released in the fourth quarter of 2011.[21] In June 2011, Cruz released a collaborative single, "Little Bad Girl", with French DJ David Guetta and American rapper Ludacris. The song was a worldwide smash, topping singles charts across the world.[22] During July and August 2011, a series of unreleased songs, recorded during the album sessions, were leaked to YouTube. in an interview, Cruz promised a "fun" and "energetic" album, and claimed that due to the leak, none of the tracks posted on YouTube would be included on the album. Cruz claimed, "It's a shame really, because one person has spoilt it for all the fans. They could have had an album packed with 17, 18 tracks, and now, they're only getting eleven because of one stupid act of tomfooolery."[23] During the interview, Cruz also claimed that the title of the album had been changed to Troublemaker, after one of the tracks included on the album. On 4 October 2011, the single "Hangover" was officially released in Germany and the US, and it was rumoured that a solo version of the song, that features on the physical release, would be included as a bonus track on the album. However, these rumours were later quashed.[24]

Around October 2011, the album was made available for pre-order, and as such, the album's final title, TY.O, was revealed. Cruz, via his Twitter account, made the decision to name the album TY.O after he expressed his annoyance at people constantly pronouncing his name wrong. The album was first released in Germany on 2 December 2011. It will be released in the UK on 31 December 2012. It was going to release in the United States on 17 May 2012, but it was released on 31 December 2012, coinciding with the UK release, but with new tracks, including the U.S. single "Fast Car".

Cruz was scheduled to co-headline Pitbull's Australian leg of Planet Pit World Tour in August 2012.[25] On 12 August, Cruz performed at the closing ceremony of the 2012 Summer Olympics in London.[26] The performance at London's Olympic Stadium saw Cruz sing his own song "Dynamite", and also perform "Written in the Stars" alongside Jessie J and Tinie Tempah.[26]

2013–present: #Black and business ventures[edit]

In early 2013, Cruz recorded vocals over the song "Brazil" by electronic artist Deadmau5 and titled the remake "Touch the Sky".

In August 2013, Taio Cruz announced on his Facebook and Twitter account that he would be releasing a new app. It is called Kewe (www.kewe.co) and is a social media app for iOS, where people can interact and keep up with what Taio Cruz is doing. It launched on August 18, 2013. Kewe plans to release an android version early 2014.

On November 24, 2013, Taio Cruz announced his fourth studio album, #Black via his Instagram, Facebook, and Twitter pages, and said that it would release in the first quarter of 2014, with the first single to be released by the end of 2013. As of September 2014, #Black is yet to be released and has no scheduled release date. A song called "Don't You Dare", which was originally scheduled to be the first single release from the album on May 14, leaked online during July and has yet to be released on iTunes or receive any promotion from Cruz himself or the label.

Writing and production[edit]

Cruz has written songs on albums by Cheryl Cole, JLS, The Saturdays, The Wanted and David Guetta. Cruz wrote and featured on Tinchy Stryder's hit single "Take Me Back". Pop rock band McFly recorded "Shine a Light" which not only features, but was also penned and produced by Cruz for their fifth studio album.[27] 2011 will see him writing for Justin Bieber's next album.[28] Jennifer Lopez's 2011 single "I'm Into You", featuring Lil Wayne, is also penned by Cruz. He also contributed significantly to David Guetta's fifth album Nothing but the Beat, penning two of his hit singles "Without You", featuring Usher and "Little Bad Girl", featuring Cruz and Ludacris. He has also written "Mechanics of the Heart" for Cheryl Cole's Hit album: A Million Lights.

Other ventures[edit]

RXTR/Rokstarr brand[edit]

On 1 September 2009, Cruz launched the brand Rokstarr, a fashion and accessories brand which has a focus on sunglasses. Speaking in October to R&B writer Pete Lewis, Cruz stated, "There's a load of US celebrities that are all rocking the sunglasses already—Kid Cudi, Justin Timberlake, Kanye West...Then in the UK we have The Saturdays, JLS, Daniel Merriweather—who've all been twittering and writing on their blogs how much they love them. So yeah, it's definitely my new album 'Rokstarr' and the fashion brand that are my two main focuses at the moment."[29]

Meanwhile, speaking again to Lewis in April 2010, Cruz revealed: "We're currently looking to expand the brand and possibly go into things like watches. I've also got a new subsidiary of Rokstarr called 'Rok By Rokstarr'. And we've just started doing things like jeans and T-shirts, and stuff that more of the fans of Taio Cruz can buy. Because with Rokstarr in itself being so expensive, a lot of the kids out there who want to buy Rokstarr things can't. So we're bringing in stuff that's a little bit more High Street and more affordable."[30]

In 2012 the brand was renamed to RXTR, a backronym for Riots and Twelve Rebels. The new name came along with new products in the form of watches which were immediately stocked at Selfridges flagship store on Oxford Street in London.[31]

In the same year the first Menswear and Womenswear collections were launched at http://RXTR.com.


Cruz filmed a PSA with Little Kids Rock, a national nonprofit that works to restore and revitalize music education in disadvantaged U.S. public schools. Through Cruz’s encouragement for music education, the gift of music is possible in children’s lives.[32]


Main article: Taio Cruz discography

Writer discography[edit]

Awards and nominations[edit]

Year Award Category Work Result
2004 Brit Awards[7] Best British Song "Your Game" Won
2008 MOBO Awards Best UK Male Nominated
2010 American Music Awards Breakthrough Artist Won
2010 Brit Awards[12] Best British Song "Break Your Heart" Nominated
2010 iTunes Best Album & Song Best Song "Dynamite" Nominated
2010 Premios 40 Principales Best International Song "Break Your Heart" Nominated
2010 ASCAP Awards Ascap Vanguard Award Departure Won
2011 Brit Awards[16] Best British Song "Dynamite" Nominated
2011 Virgin Media Awards[33] Best Male Nominated
2011 Best Collaboration "Dirty Picture" Nominated
2011 Best Video Nominated
2011 Billboard Awards[17] Top New Artist Nominated
2011 Top Hot 100 Song "Dynamite" Won
2011 Top Pop Song Won
2011 Top Digital Song Won
2011 Top Radio Song Nominated
2011 Top Streaming Song Nominated
2011 2011 MuchMusic Video Awards MuchMusic.com Most Watched Video "Dynamite" Won
2011 ASCAP Awards Song Of The Year "Dynamite" Won
2012 ASCAP Awards (Honoured) Most Performed Song "Dynamite" Won
2012 "Without You" Won


  1. ^ "Taio Cruz Biography - Billboard.com". 
  2. ^ Birchmeier, Jason. "Taio Cruz > Biography". AllMusic (Rovi Corporation). Retrieved 24 July 2010. 
  3. ^ Thrills, Adrian (19 November 2009). "Boarding School Boy Taio Cruz". The Daily Mail (London). 
  4. ^ Rock and Pop Features (2010-03-24). "Jay Sean and Taio Cruz wowing America". Telegraph. Retrieved 2014-05-30. 
  5. ^ "Pupils vote to wear the school uniform that's been in fashion since 1552 | Mail Online". Dailymail.co.uk. 2010-12-27. Retrieved 2014-05-30. 
  6. ^ a b McCormick, Neil (27 March 2008). "Taio Cruz The Public School Soul Sensation". Daily Telegraph (London). Retrieved 30 July 2010. 
  7. ^ a b Taio Cruz Biography, Island Records. Retrieved 2010-15-10.
  8. ^ a b c d e f g "Interview With Jamie Binns". HitQuarters. 18 April 2011. Retrieved 2 May 2011. 
  9. ^ a b "UK Charts > Taio Cruz". Official Charts Company. Retrieved 6 May 2010. 
  10. ^ Jones, Alan (25 March 2008). "Now That's What I Call Music! still has it". Music Week (United Business Media). Retrieved 28 July 2010. 
  11. ^ "Amazon:New Release – UK Forthcoming Albums". AMAZON. Retrieved 16 September 2009. 
  12. ^ a b "The BRITs 2010: British Single". Brits.co.uk. Retrieved 11 July 2012
  13. ^ a b "Taio Cruz > Charts & Awards > Billboard Singles". Allmusic. Macrovision. Retrieved 21 April 2010. 
  14. ^ Adesioye, Lola (1 April 2010). "Jay Sean and Taio Cruz Interview". The Guardian (London: Guardian Media Group). Retrieved 30 July 2010. 
  15. ^ "Taio Cruz Talks 'Energetic' New Album, Justin Bieber & Jennifer Lopez". Billboard. Retrieved 11 July 2012
  16. ^ a b "The BRITs 2011: British Single". Brits.co.uk. Retrieved 11 July 2012
  17. ^ a b "2011 Billboard Music Awards (Complete List of Winners)". Yahoo. Retrieved 11 July 2012
  18. ^ "Taio Cruz – The Rokstarr Collection". play.com. Retrieved 30 July 2010. 
  19. ^ Kaufman, Gil (28 July 2010). "Eminem Edges Out Rick Ross To Hold Billboard #1 For Fifth Week". MTV. MTV Networks (Viacom). Retrieved 30 July 2010. 
  20. ^ "What do we think of Taio Cruz's new video?". Digital Spy. Retrieved 30 March 2011
  21. ^ "Taio Cruz wins first Billboard award", Digital Spy. Retrieved 23 May 2011.
  22. ^ "David Guetta teams with Taio Cruz, Ludacris for 'Little Bad Girl' video", Digital Spy. Retrieved 19 July 2011.
  23. ^ "Taio Cruz promises "fun, energetic" new album", Digital Spy. Retrieved 6 September 2011
  24. ^ "Taio Cruz, Flo Rida release new single 'Hangover'", Digital Spy. Retrieved 4 October 2011
  25. ^ "International Planet Pit Tour". Retrieved 1 August 2012. 
  26. ^ a b "Going out in a blaze of golden glory: Awe-inspiring shots from the fantastic fireworks show which closed London's 2012 Olympics". Daily Mail. Retrieved 7 October 2012
  27. ^ "McFly – Shine A Light: **** or hit?". 20 July 2010. Retrieved 30 July 2010. 
  28. ^ Vena, Jocelyn (13 December 2010). "Taio Cruz Working On 'Young Pop' For Justin Bieber". MTV. Retrieved 15 December 2010. 
  29. ^ "Rokstarr In The Making – Pete Lewis Interviews Taio Cruz". Blues & Soul. 2 October 2009. Retrieved 2 October 2009. 
  30. ^ Lewis, Pete (May 2010). "Taio Cruz Comes Clean". Blues & Soul. Retrieved 27 April 2011. 
  31. ^ "TIME² Chats To Taio Cruz At The LTD RXTR Watch Launch". Time2. Retrieved 11 July 2012
  32. ^ Retrieved January 15, 2014
  33. ^ "Lady Gaga, Christina Aguilera Win Virgin Media Music Awards" MTV.com. Retrieved 3 June 2011.

External links[edit]