Show and prove
Maintenance: Kemet High
Editor’s Note: This story originally appeared in the Spring 2021 issue of XXL Magazine, on the stands now.
A unique voice is crucial for rap fame. And that just happens to be Rubi Roseattribute given by God. Although she is small in stature, her sonorous tone makes her music larger than life, as if she is the seed of vocal prowess rap legends Lil ‘Kim and Foxy Brown. This voice delivers the sexually liberated lyrics to her 2019 “Big Mouth” smash, which spawned various TikTok viral trends, from dance moves to people biting into various foods during the intro. Considering the platform’s current superpower, which has bolstered the 23-year-old’s status in the rap game, in addition to the influence she has gained as a past video vixen and social media influencer. After quadrupling her monthly Spotify listeners in the past year, Rubi is looking to increase its momentum in 2021.
Ruby Rose Langenheim was born in Lexington, Ky. To an East African mother and multiracial father who was adopted and is believed to be Japanese and white. Growing up in the house with her older sister Scarlett, the taste for music was seasoned by the artists their parents played during weekend cleaning sessions. Sounds that defy the genre of singers like Michael Jackson and Prince filled the air, as did the rap freaks. The notorious BIG and Tupac Shakur.
The Mormon religion of Rubi’s family protected her from what went on outside the family home as a child. “There was a time when I wasn’t supposed to listen to music like this, drink caffeine, and wear clothes that didn’t go beyond my knees,” she recalls. This ultimately made her more curious. And the way she fueled her curiosity was through the internet. During class she would search and download music like Dom kennedyof Yellow album.
The gospel was another story. Rubi had her first chance to create music in the church where she sang hymns and played the piano until the age of 9, when her father was excommunicated from the shrine. As problems arose in her parents’ marriage, Rubi and her older sister were sent to live with their grandmother, aunt, uncle and cousins in Geneva, Switzerland. The French-speaking city was home to many refugees of Eritrean origin, of the same nationality as the late Nipsey Hussle, following the Eritrean civil war. “We were at school most of the time,” she says of what kept her busy abroad.
Before her 12th birthday, Rubi’s parents brought them back to Kentucky after a year and a half. But things didn’t last and in the summer of 2013, Rubi, her mother and sisters moved to Atlanta. In Black Mecca, Rubi completed her final two years of high school and enrolled in Georgia State University as a sci-fi major in August 2015. While studying, she began performing with rap, the freestyle in a makeshift studio. She was soon inspired to give up the idea of becoming a lawyer and take rap more seriously. “People said they liked my voice and that I had people who believed in me and motivated me to keep going,” says Rubi, who turned to rappers. Nicki Minaj, Missy Elliott and Foxy Brown for a shot.
Over the next several years and between classes, the aspiring rhyming student worked with friends on her breathing and delivery techniques. Before revealing the finished product, Rubi began to delve into the industry as a video vixen. The first two videos she was featured in were about Raury’s gem “Cigarette Song” in 2015, and Migos‘ hit “Bad and BoujeeWith Lil Uzi Vert in 2016. “It helped my career and made my face known a bit,” she notes of Migos’ most watched video.
Rubi’s first official song in 2018 came with more steam than the norm. She put down a verse on her then boyfriend’s record, Playboi Carti, “On Top”. Seeing how elite he was on SoundCloud, Rubi claims the expected record broke over a million plays in just one month on the platform. “I thought it was going to be my big break,” she admits. It turns out that was not yet the case. The disc could not make noise.
Not discouraged, Rubi continued. In early 2019, she released “Trickin ‘” followed by “Big Mouth”, her biggest record to date. The tenor tone she used to spit out lyrics like “Fuck him good, take that nigga money when he drop out” on the foundation produced by ChewBeats was instantly magical. “At the time, I didn’t even know how to check the feeds,” Rubi admits. “But the labels started reaching out, so I knew it had done something.”
In June, Rubi signed a deal with Hitco Entertainment, founded by legendary LA Reid. “It’s a new label and I feel like a priority,” Rubi explains. “I need attention to promote my growth.”
Knowing how effective an emerging rapper like Rubi and a seasoned beat architect would be, LA Reid aligned rap with producer Hitmaka, who then helped mix up “Big Mouth.” “I thought it was something special and unique with her being just such a small, petite woman but having that wide, deep voice,” Hitmaka remarks. “Plus, she was talking incredibly greasy. So I knew the girls would eat this shit.
In September, Rubi concocted the treatment for the “Big Mouth” music video, which, in combination with an accompanying TikTok trend, helped push the song to 13 million streams on Spotify. Her follow-up “Hit Yo Dance” with Yella Beezy and NLE Choppa also kept the kettle hot this fall.
Escaping the stagnant COVID-19 anchor, Rubi Rose got even better in 2020. She scored a big peek in the visuals for Cardi B and Megan Thee stallionLeaving the top of the charts “WAP”This August. Rubi’s short but unmistakable track record forced LA Reid’s hand to upgrade his deal from a singles package to an artist signing in December. In a festive way, his first mixtape, For the streets, fell on Christmas day. “It’s a good representation of the artist I’m becoming,” Rubi argues of the eight song effort, led by bad bitch hymns like “Papi” and PartyNextDoor and Future-assisted slow. burn “Whole Lotta Liquor”.
Now the young Rubiana is determined to become a full-fledged superstar in 2021. As a precursor to her upcoming debut album, the still-enrolled researcher is preparing to unload new music that will hopefully inspire girls who can understand its brutality. As hip-hop finally embraces women more, all eyes are on young people like Rubi, who recognizes the pressure with open arms. “I like the attention,” she admits. But she focuses on the big picture. “I just want to grow in every way, mentally, musically, financially.”
Better believe it’s in her bag now.
Learn more about XXLSpring 2021 issue, including Cardi B cover story, How? ‘Or’ What rappers are legally making money thanks to the cannabis boom and the social justice that goes with it, Damson Idris Snowfall on the impact of hip-hop on his life, A $ AP Ferg reflects on the creation of his Always strive and thrive album, Shelley FKA DRAM speaks his return, Trippie Redd explains how Playboi Carti and Lil Uzi Vert helped change hip-hop, Show & Prove with 42 Dugg and Lakeyah, Blxst and more.
Cardi B covers the Spring 2021 issue of XXL magazine.