2016 was an amazing year for music that was conversational, controversial and uncompromising. For people of color, especially, it served as an ambitious attempt to put the rest of the free world on notice on what it really means to be black-and-brown in America. In the midst of albums like Freetown Sound, A Seat at the Table and Lemonade — Brooklyn’s own Xenia Rubinos was also addressing issues of identity with her second album, Black Terry Cat.
Born to a Cuban father and Puerto Rican, Xenia Rubinos challenged the labelling of her music by old music industry standards, being pigeonholed as “Latin,” and burst like a batch of C4 with her own brand of wild-and-crazy sound and fury. This Berklee College of Music graduate holds a degree in jazz composition, croons like a 21st century version of Lady Day and impressed listeners in the beginning of her career by throwing house shows in her own apartment in Brooklyn.
Currently signed to ANTI-, a division of Epitaph, Xenia Rubinos is akin to ask questions that others are too afraid to pose. From highlighting the issues that come with being a person of color and how people have their own ideas to debating where she fits in the grand spectrum — this Black Terry Cat has the world (and the game as a whole) focusing in on her talents. The accolades are there: NPR Music, The New York Times and Rolling Stone all added her to its best-of-the-year lists, and with the new year full of possibilities — Xenia Rubinos is a one-in-a-generation type of artist.
This week’s First Look Friday sat down with us to talk about how art can be a refuge, how the music industry is going to evolve in the next five years and why the stars need to align to link Ladybug Mecca with Xenia Rubinos.
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