Forces At Play: Xenia Rubinos

Born and raised in the US of a Puerto Rican mother and Cuban father, Brooklyn-based Xenia Rubinos is redefining the Latino American experience, and what it means to be a person of color in America, at least musically, on her latest album Black Terry Cat. Released this past June on Anti/Epitaph Recoreds, Rubinos’ genre defying sonic explorations blend elements of Jazz, Hip Hop and Synth Pop with distinctive soulful/R&B vocals delivering playfully poignant, politically-charged stream of consciousness lyrics.

Rubinos pokes fun at the undervaluation of brown-skinned people who are typically the ones cooking our food, cleaning our houses and taking care of our elderly, on the track “Mexican Chef,” rapping “brown cleans your house, brown takes the trash, brown even wipes your grandaddy’s ass.” On “I Won’t Say” she recites lines from Abbey Lincoln’s 1966 essay “Who Will Revere the Black Woman,” associating it to her own similar experiences. Admittedly her favorite song on the album, “You See Them” is also perhaps the most experimental of the 14 total tracks, dipping in and out of various unique sections, from upbeat, dance-y drums and organ, to a vocal breakdown, chanting “you know where to put the brown girl when she’s fuckin’ it up / where you going to put the brown girl now she’s tearin’ it up?”

Through the interplay of musical stylings and lyrical contemplations about the greater diaspora of Americans of color, Xenia Rubinos breaks down the confines of Latin music generalizations, and creates a completely new genre for the first generation Afro-Latina to tell their story. 

Catch Xenia Rubinos live at Holocene on Wednesday, September 14, with support from the always terrific Blossom and Tay Sean.