‘Breaking’ Presents: Xenia Rubinos, a Powerhose Singer/Songwriter Unafraid to Learn Out Loud

‘Breaking’ Presents: Xenia Rubinos, a Powerhose Singer/Songwriter Unafraid to Learn Out Loud


Sameer Rao, Culture Reporter/Blogger

Xenia Rubinos in concert
Photo: John Felix Shaw/Anti- Records

On her funky second album, “Black Terry Cat,” the genre-bender explores identity, police violence and the hidden labor of Latino/a restaurant workers.

For our latest Breaking, we’re highlighting singer-songwriter Xenia Rubinos. The multi-instrumentalist, who hit the national scene with 2013’s “Magic Trix,” continues her personal and creative development on the funky, frenetic “Black Terry Cat.”

Hometown: Hartford, Connecticut

Based In: New York City

Sound: A chaotic mix of R&B, rock, hip-hop and jazz that underscores Rubinos’ robust mezzo-soprano. Her lyrics are sometimes wry, sometimes incorporating Spanish-language passages,

Why You Should Care: Depending on your background and worldview, Xenia Rubinos’ music sounds either like modern-day Latin pop, avant-garde R&B or a tapestry from an indie artist with too many influences to count. Either way, it sounds like nothing you’ve heard before—which, as she told us, is kind of the point.

…Juxtaposed, “Mexican Chef” and “Black Stars” speak volumes about the ongoing evolution of Rubios’ identity. While she identifies as Afro-Latina, she tells Colorlines that she does not identify as Black. “My family history is complicated, and I still don’t fully know the extent of it,” she says after describing her Black maternal great grandmother, her Puerto Rican family’s Taino heritage and her paternal grandfather’s emigration from Spain. “I started reading on the Afro-Latina diaspora two years ago, and I’m still ignorant to a lot of that, but I started seeing myself in that term. I explore the ‘Afro’ part of my cultural identity, and how I do or don’t fit into that, on ‘Black Terry Cat.'” She says that’s a big part of why hip-hop permeates this album…

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