Ruby Ibarra: New Face in Hip-Hop - FKOF JPN #5

Ruby Ibarra: New Face in Hip-Hop


In the third update from FKOF tonight, we have something a bit different. Hip-hop heads may have heard of a certain young lady who goes by the name of Ruby Ibarra. Ruby’s been making some serious waves online over the past month, so we got our resident head fameONE on the case to find out more…

When I was seven years old, I rummaged through my uncle’s collection of cassette tapes only to stumble upon artists such as A Tribe Called Quest, KRS-One and Common to name a few. This sparked a lifelong love for hip-hop music. Even though I couldn’t fully grasp what the artists were talking about at the time, I knew then that I had fallen in love with a genre that has perplexed, dazzled and even disappointed its audience. Nearly two decades later, my love remains intact and instead of rummaging through a crate of dusty tapes to discover new music, I spend hours upon hours on the internet trying to find the next artist that I can listen to over and over again without second thought.

A viral video recently caught my attention. The dynamic vocals and complex rhyme scheme of 24 year old Ruby Ibarra gave me a feeling of nostalgia reminiscent of that moment nearly two decades ago. The poet/emcee is making serious waves across the internet simply by doing what she loves. By pleasing her own heart through her passion, she pleases the hearts of hip-hop heads everywhere. In fact, a video of her performing Mad Izm in the studio has easily surpassed 170,000+ views on in six days. My love for hip-hop and growing curiosity led me to seeking this artist out immediately for an interview.

Where are you from? I’m from San Lorenzo, California. It’s a tiny city that most people haven’t heard of, so I’ll just say that it’s in the Bay Area.

If you don’t mind, what is your ethnic background? I’m Filipina.

Do you think that will play a role in your impact as an artist? I don’t want my ethnic background to define me as an artist because I don’t want to be a gimmick, but I’m definitely proud of my heritage and I’ve talked about it in one of my songs (“Who I Am”). I want to be a rapper who so happens to be a Filipina and not merely a Filipina rapper, because then, different expectations are set for me. Hip hop is very much embraced in both the Filipino and Filipino-American communities so I think it impacts me as an artist in terms of my audience’s ethnic make-up.

What is your first defining memory of hip-hop? My defining memory of hip-hop was my first time listening to a rap song. I was four years old, living in the Philippines, and I was introduced to a Filipino rapper named Francis Magalona, whose hit single, “Mga Kababayan Ko (My People),” became one that I listened to and recited religously. It was then that I found rap music to be a music genre – I was amazed how words and voice could be just as rhythmic as the music.

How long have you been an emcee? In your blog, it says that you love poetry; does that go hand in hand with being an emcee for you? I have been an emcee since high school (I am now 24 years old). I got into spoken word my 3rd year of college when I joined my campus’ slam poetry collective. I certainly think that poetry and being an emcee goes hand in hand for me. When I started getting into spoken word, I was able to experiment with flow patterns, and it definitely helped me with my delivery and mic presence because performance poetry heavily focuses on conveying emotion.

Who or what inspires you? A lot of things inspire me to write. From the things that I’ve experienced in the past to issues I see on television or in books that I feel should be addressed, or to experiment with language by seeing what rhyme schemes or metaphors I can come up with or how I can make my flows sound more creative.

How did this begin? Is there someone that you can credit for getting you on the mic? Or were you self-motivated? I always loved rap music and reading poetry as a kid, so it just came naturally to me when I decided to write raps and pick up the mic.

What is your overall goal in hip-hop? What kind of impact do you want to make? At the end of the day, I just want my music to be heard on a larger scale. Music artists don’t usually realize this, but we’re blessed to be able to have a platform to inspire and empower. I definitely want my music to make a lasting impact and I hope I can positively contribute to the hip-hop community.

Give me a short list of your favorite rappers. Have any of them influenced your style in terms of delivery? My favorite rappers include A Tribe Called Quest, Wu Tang Clan, Hieroglyphics, Lauryn Hill, Eminem, and Lupe Fiasco. They have each contributed to my style and choice of beats in some way.

Are you with any label or group at this point in your career? I’m currently not signed and not part of a rap group. I wouldn’t mind changing that though (haha)!

What makes you laugh? Dirty jokes (haha)!

Outside of hip-hop, what makes you tick? What keeps you going? Knowing that I need to live life with no regrets and that tomorrow isn’t promised.

SHOUT-OUTS I want to give a shot out to my homie, Random Abiladeze, for helping me to get my name out in the Sacramento scene. I also want to shout out Cody McClaine, Donna, Anna, Robert, Mad Illz, and Domino.

Charismatic, humble and an absolute joy are just a few ways I can describe Ruby Ibarra while off the mic. But when she spits, expect nothing short of fire. There are so many artists in the world of hip-hop these days. Often, what’s good and what isn’t is completely subjective and a matter of personal taste. One thing is for sure; Ruby Ibarra displays a level of talent that can easily put well known artists to shame. Just due props are long overdue.


Ruby was kind enough to give us three tracks to giveaway, so grab your tracks -> Ruby Ibarra x FKOF <- here. We reckon you’ll be seeing and hearing a lot more from Ruby throughout 2011 so follow her on Twitter and Tumblr, add her on Facebook and support one of the most talented emcees we’ve come across in ages. It’d be rude not to!

If you have any thoughts on fameONE’s interview with Ruby Ibarra, or thoughts on anything else you’ve read let us know either via the comments section below or through one of the other forms of contact (emailTwitter and Facebook).