Cuco Is a Teenage Hearthhrob From South L.A. Who Can Sell Out the Smell

Cuco Is a Teenage Hearthhrob From South L.A. Who Can Sell Out the Smell


Omar Banos, who uses the alias Cuco, is exercising his knowledge of six instruments and social media to reach stardom.

Paul Luna

Omar Banos keeps trying to convince me that he’s boring. As much as I’d like to object, it’s hard to do so over the noise. Across the parking lot, a truck backs into a loading dock alongside the warehouse where mija mgmt occupies a single room, and the reverse signal is so loud it may as well be coming from beneath the coffee table.

The clandestine office space meeting with Banos — who releases synth-laden Bandcamp ballads under the stage name Cuco — put him in a new context. I last saw him at the Smell, where a sold-out headlining set solidified him as the star of the evening in horn-rimmed glasses. His fandom poured out of the venue and into the back alley, where members of the crowd exchanged the places from which they trekked for the show: South L.A., Whittier, Santa Ana.

Back in February, mija founder Doris Muñoz discovered the Hawthorne native on Twitter, where his awkwardly alluring handle is @Icryduringsex — and where he had already garnered 11,000 followers (last week, it surpassed 25,000). She crawled down the rabbit hole of his social media presence just far enough to realize that the 18-year-old’s Internet following signified a rarity in the music world: an artist of color with a devout fanbase largely composed of Latina teens. After emailing Cuco a couple times to no avail, Muñoz did what any real fangirl would: She showed up at one of his house shows.

“When I talked to him the first time, I told him that I just didn’t want some…

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