Fast-fire rap/rock artist Crucifix introduces the music video for “Devil In the Fireball,” a track from his latest album, Desperado.
Originally from Atlanta, Georgia, Crucifix, aka Cameron Cruce, grew up in Central and East Africa. By the time he turned 18-years-old, he’d lived in fifteen countries, spoke three languages, and comprehended the socio-economic realities of life.
In 1994, while his family lived in Rwanda, the country devolved into a civil war between the government of Rwanda and the rebel Rwandan Patriotic Front. The resulting genocide left more than 1 million people dead. Fleeing with only the clothes they wore and a Bible, Cruce and his family barely got out alive, ending up in Burundi and then Kenya East Africa.
They moved back to the U.S. when Cruce was 16, where he went through culture shock. Unable to fit in, he fell into the abyss of drugs, gangs, and violence. When he woke up one day in a crack-house, he knew it was time for a change of direction. He got a job, got married, and had a child.
In 2005, he released his first album, My Life’s Prayer, taking the name BabyBlue. The album exploded onto Atlanta’s underground music scene. A short while later, he found himself working as co-producer, editor, and musical director on the film Crackheads Gone Wild.
2007 marked a cusp of transition: Cruce gave himself to Jesus Christ, changed his name to Crucifix as a reminder of his redemption, and moved forward. His story was published and he released Cruce Signati, featuring Sean P, Goodie Mob, and members of Outkast’s Dungeon Family.
By 2012, his music was appearing on television. Then he signed with Average Joes Entertainment, followed by hitting MTV and releasing his first film, Road To Chernobyl. Since then, he’s formed his own label, launched a line of clothing, toured the U.S. multiple times, and hit the Top 20 on Billboard.
“Devil In the Fireball” blends flavors of Southern hip-hop and swashbuckling rock into a rough-and-ready song chockfull of hefty surging energy. Topped by Crucifix’s sizzling, rasping tones, the lyrics discharge wicked muscle, as he bathes in a bathtub of whiskey poured by a gorgeous, tattooed woman.
Tattoo spoke with Crucifix to find out more about “Devil In the Fireball,” his writing process, and the video’s genesis.
What is the inspiration behind the “Devil In the Fireball”?
I was lying awake one night just staring at the ceiling. In one of those creative cyclone moments you wish would just pass so you could go to sleep, and all I could picture in my head was drowning in a tub of whiskey with a tattooed model pouring it down her body and into the tub… I laid there for a couple of hours, couldn’t shake the thought, so I started searching tattooed models and locations. I had the idea but nothing clicked, so I hung it up and sat on it for almost a year.
A lot of times for me, there’s not a lot of method to my madness. I just tend to create on impulse, and I feel that’s when the art of it all really comes together. “Devil in the Fireball” was always one of my favorite tracks off the Desperado album, especially to perform live. I always knew I wanted to shoot a video for it. I was just waiting for that impulse. Once it hits, the artist side of you kicks in and you’re firing on all cylinders. You pull inspiration from everywhere: experiences, relationships, places you’ve been… But in the end, it becomes a piece of art that doesn’t look like any particular one of them. Yet couldn’t exist without all of them.
What is the story and inspiration behind the title of the new release?
“Devil in the Fireball” started out as morning-after scapegoat catchphrase from life on the road. When you’re out on tour, months on end, a different city every night, partying with fans, things get crazy… and somewhere along the way Fireball just became the whiskey of choice. Partly because it’s a voice saver. Twenty shows in when your voice is barely hanging on, that one shot before you go on stage is enough to get you through it. But I think more than anything, once you’re twenty shows in, 15 shots of Fireball a night is easier to handle than 15 shots of Jack.
Then when guys started waking up the next morning, crawling out of whatever hole they passed out in, trying to piece together what happened the night before, it was easier to just blame it on the Fireball than apologize for throwing some guy’s clothes off a roof, playing Frisbee in a hotel hallway with a stranger’s pizza, or painting the sound guy’s face with a Sharpie because he passed out on the bathroom floor. It just became, “Sorry dawg… I don’t remember that, it must’ve been the Devil in the Fireball.”
Tell us a bit about the music video shoot?
We shot the music video on June 3rd at The American Horrorplex, a haunted house in downtown Louisville, Kentucky. For me, the creative process itself is one of the main reasons I keep making videos. I just love the process. Taking every element, from lighting to the colors and textures on set, and just painting it onto film. I work closely with independent director Joshua Kirk, and most of the time we have no plan of what we’re shooting. We just show up and let the creativity take over.
I think as an artist, it’s easy to get stuck on your original vision, instead of just letting your creativity carry you beyond it. You have to open yourself up and realize your original vision is always just a starting point. It’s not until that vision evolves that it can truly come to life. So shooting in a haunted house gave us the perfect blueprint to let that vision evolve. Instead of building a set, we stepped in and had quick access to incredible textures and a smaller, controlled environment where we could let that creativity loose.
The video features you drowning in a bathtub of Fireball Whiskey.
You know… when you’re a teenage boy dreaming of one-day bathing in a tub of whiskey beneath a half-naked model drowning you in Fireball… there’s a lot of things that just don’t cross your mind. Like, how many other ways you could become intoxicated besides drinking? I’ll leave the rest to the imagination, but suffice to say once I sat my ass in that tub the rest of the day was a blur… Must’ve been the Devil in the Fireball.
Tell us a bit about the songwriting process for this track.
My process differs depending on what I’m going through at that moment, the music I’m writing to, where I am, who I’m around. When I wrote “Devil in the Fireball” I had just got off tour, you’re in that strange mental purgatory between loving the fact you’re finally home again and missing the excitement of the road. Ordinary life sinks back in, and you start going through withdrawal, grasping for a small piece of being back on the road. That’s when all the memories of the crazy times come flooding back. I stepped in the studio that day and all I could think of was all the crazy, hilarious shit the “Devil in the Fireball” made us do. So I pulled out a bottle for old time’s sake and started recording.
Tell us a bit about the ink you have?
Like most of us who put ink under our skin, that ink means something. It’s a permanent reminder of where we’ve come from, what we’ve come through, where we’re aiming to go… and in the same breath, it’s a reminder that we’re still a work in progress. Every time I look at my skin I’m thinking, “There’s so much more I need to add to this work in progress to make it a masterpiece.”
I have some older ink, like pieces of the past you can’t undo, there’s part of me that’s always like “Man, I wish I wouldn’t have got that.” But then again, there’s still something dope about adding the new to the old and bringing it back to life. Almost like, even though what’s behind you can’t be undone, it doesn’t define the canvas of your life. You just need a little more work to dial in the bigger picture.
I’m finishing a sleeve now; it’s pretty much just a picture of the more difficult moments and life lessons I’ve had to come to grips with over the years. Growing up, my family and I were refugees during the Rwandan Genocide in East Africa, where over 800,000 men, women and children were beaten, shot and hacked to death in a period of about three months.
Some of those images I’ll never be able to get out of my head, so putting them on my skin is almost like a way of exorcising it. Taking the pain from your mind to your skin, just so it’s staring back at you every day and you’re forced to deal with it. Sometimes you have to just get up and look your demons in the face to remind them they don’t own you anymore.
What artists have done work on you and is there anyone that you’ve been dying to get tattooed by?
My go-to artist is David Glover (@seatcover), based out of McDonough Georgia. Incredible guy, incredible artist. But I’ve had the pleasure of working with artists like Todo Brennan and Yogi Barrett, but the one artist I’d be dying to get in some work with would be Thomas Carli Jarlier. Super-fan of his work.
Who is the heavily inked up girl in the video?
The Devil in the Fireball herself! Inked and Sullen model Morgan Taylor (@MizzMorganTaylor). She and her husband, tattoo artist Chris Jansen (@ChrisJansenTattoo) own a tattoo shop in Boise Idaho called Ink Slave Tattoo. I actually stumbled across Morgan on Instagram about a year prior, looking for a tattooed model to play the role. As soon as I saw her I knew she was it. It took a year before we rolled the video out and I actually reached out to her. But once I did she jumped on board, it was her first music video and she did an incredible job. Was an absolute blast to work with, we couldn’t have done it without her.