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California singer, songwriter, and producer Cuco combines romantic, lo-fi bedroom pop with charm, wit, and a mix of English and Spanish lyrics. After winning a fervent fan base with the release of his 2016 debut mixtape, Wannabewithu, he signed with Interscope and gained more widespread attention with his Billboard-charting 2019 full-length Para Mi. The slicker but still quirky Fantasy Gateway followed in 2022 and featured a range of guests including Mexican singer/songwriter Bratty and American country singer Kacey Musgraves. After a series of standalone singles, Cuco returned with the psych-indebted 2023 EP Hitchhiker. A native of Hawthorne, California, Omar Banos developed his musical abilities early, listening to Chicano rappers like MC Magic and Baby Bash, and experimenting with digital recording. Under the name Cuco, he recorded Wannabewithu while still in high school and quickly developed a regional following, particularly among young Latinos. A follow-up mixtape, Songs4u, arrived in 2017 as Cuco made the move from playing SoCal house concerts to proper clubs, selling out his first two venues. Singing in both English and Spanish over woozy track beds of synths and drum machines, he continued releasing new material, including the 2018 singles "Sunnyside" and "CR-V," both of which appeared on his EP Chiquito in May of that year. He issued the stand-alone single "Fix Me" with Dillon Francis in 2019. These placeholder songs paved the way for Cuco's debut studio album, Para Mi, which arrived in the summer of 2019 on Interscope Records. It peaked at number six on Billboard's Top Modern Rock/Alternative Albums chart and cracked the front half of the Billboard 200. Aside from an appearance on Yung Gravy's 2020 track "Off the Goop," Cuco kept a relatively low profile until early 2022, when he released the singles "Caution" and "Time Machine." Both songs appeared on his sophomore album, Fantasy Gateway, in July of that year. Produced by Venezuelan hitmaker Manuel Lara (Kali Uchis, Bad Bunny), the album boasted a higher production value and featured appearances from Bratty and DannyLux, as well as Kacey Musgraves and Adriel Favela on the streaming hit "Sitting in the Corner." Cuco continued his collaborations in 2023 with "Si Me Voy" with the Marías and "Medusa" with Caloncho. All of this led up to the November release of Hitchhiker, a seven-song psych-pop EP that explored themes of mortality and life's fragility.
© Timothy Monger /TiVo


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