Rubi Rose – 2021 XXL Freshman
- GOV'T NAME: Rubi Rose Benton
- AGE: 23
- REPPIN': Lexington, Ky.
- TWITTER: @RubixxRose
- INSTAGRAM: @therubirose
- TIKTOK: @rubirose
- NOTABLE RELEASES: Singles: “Big Mouth,” “He in His Feelings,” “Hit Yo Dance” featuring Yella Beezy and NLE Choppa, “Whole Lotta Liquor” featuring Future and PartyNextDoor, “Pretty MF”; Mixtape: For The Streets; Guest Appearances: Wiz Khalifa’s “POV,” Day Sulan’s “Big”
- LABEL: Hitco Entertainment
- CURRENTLY WORKING ON: As-yet-untitled EP due this fall.
- WHO ELSE SHOULD BE PART OF THIS YEAR'S CLASS: “I like Vory. How he sings, his vibrato, and the content of what he’s singing about. Vory is just dope and he’s from Kentucky.”
- INFLUENCED BY: “My musical influences are Nicki Minaj, of course. She is the Queen of Rap. She paved the way for a lot of upcoming female artists. Her looks, her hairstyles, music, everything. I love what she’s doing. And I also love Cardi B. She’s also paved the way for the new generation and new female rappers. I fuck with what she’s doing with her music. Her visuals as well are on point.”
- AS A FRESHMAN IN HIGH SCHOOL: “My freshman year of high school, I was an excellent student, first and foremost. I excelled in my academics. But, I also was a cheerleader and I ran track. I feel like being a cheerleader you’re automatically kind of considered cool, but I also had Instagram followers, so it’s kind of cool because of that.”
It was personally important because, again, it just gives me the self-validation and I didn’t think I was going to get it… Even in the car driving here, I started tearing up at the fact that I came a long way. It’s crazy.
I’m bringing to the game my voice… It’s different. A lot of the other rap girls are higher pitched… I obviously sound like a woman, but I’m not too girly. Real and raw.”—Georgette Cline
RUBI ROSE'S 2021 XXL FRESHMAN FREESTYLE
As hip-hop prepares to celebrate its 48th birthday next month, the genre has elevated to heights that its founding fathers may have never thought possible. The influx of artists trying to get recognized for their rhymes isn't enough to stand out from the competition these days. 2021 XXL Freshman Rubi Rose's voice has set her apart from many of the rap newcomers in her league. While her liberating lyrics of sex, power and boss moves have become fodder for social media captions and the TikTok set, it's how Rubi delivers the music that leaves a lasting impression. Her deep, sultry tone has pushed her 2019 track "Big Mouth" to over 15 million Spotify streams and 16 million YouTube views and counting.
"I’m bringing to the game my voice," the 23-year-old Lexington, Ky. native expresses. "It’s different. A lot of the other rap girls are higher pitched… I obviously sound like a woman, but I’m not too girly. Real and raw.” That no-filter energy is heard across her 2020 debut mixtape, For the Streets.
Before she was immersed in hip-hop in front of the mic, she was a student at Georgia State University in 2015, where she studied political science. Her time in Atlanta led to networking opportunities that developed into leading lady roles in music videos. Raury’s “Cigarette Song” in 2015, and Migos’ hit “Bad and Boujee” featuring Lil Uzi Vert in 2016, among them. A video vixen wasn't the career title Rubi aimed for, but it surely helped the former cheerleader's viral factor.
Two years later, she recorded her first song, which was a verse on then-boyfriend Playboi Carti’s “On Top.” While that track didn't make much noise for her, it was "Big Mouth," released a year later, that did. She had a proven hit and a handful of songs to her name at the time, which caught the attention of Hitco Entertainment, where Rubi signed in 2109.
Now, she's one of four women in the 2021 XXL Freshman Class. She recognizes that her position in hip-hop wouldn't be possible if it weren't for other women rappers that came before her. “My musical influences are Nicki Minaj, of course," Rubi says. "She is the Queen of Rap. She paved the way for a lot of upcoming female artists. Her looks, her hairstyles, music, everything. I love what she’s doing. And I also love Cardi B. She’s also paved the way for the new generation and new female rappers. I fuck with what she’s doing with her music. Her visuals as well are on point.”
With the title of XXL Freshman attached to her name, Rubi is aware of the criticism that comes along with it. But there's not a naysayer that can strike a blow to the confidence she has in herself. “[Being an XXL Freshman], I just felt really validated," she affirms. "People have to put some respect on me. People who were [in past classes] like Kendrick Lamar, J. Cole, Nipsey Hussle, I watched a lot of their cyphers. There are so many notable, legendary people, and the fact that I’m on this list, it gave me some self-validation. Now, nobody can tell me shit." Get familiar with her music before passing judgment.
Rubi Rose is ready for all the smoke in her XXL Freshman freestyle. "I'm like stay the fuck from ’round me/Booked, I'm too busy to be fuckin' with that clownery/Body work of art, they should put me in a gallery/Hunnid on my wrist, I could pay these bitches' salary/Catch up, bitch, catch up/Look, Rubiana, that's a bad bitch/Red bottoms and Givenchy, leopard cat print/In the Bentley doing business doin' business while in traffic/Pay my driver six figures so I can't have no broke n***as that's around me/Bitch, I been a boss/Yeah, the biggest boss/Shout-out Ricky Ross," she raps while switching up flows.
The glowed-up rhymer wants the crown and she isn't afraid to take it: "From the do' let these bitches know they should crown me/Yeah, I saw your chain from over here, that bitch look cloudy/Every time I pull up to the club they pay that bounty/Count it then we outtie."
Don't sleep on Rubi Rose's talent. Watch her go off in her 2021 XXL Freshman freestyle, powered by BODYARMOR, above.
RUBI ROSE'S ABCs
Rubi Rose aims to be unforgettable. With a striking voice that pushed her first hit, "Big Mouth," to over 15 million Spotify streams after its release two years ago, she's well on her way. Her sonorous timbre combined with sexually liberated lyrics, plus her prior popularity as a social media influencer and video vixen have brought more fanfare, too. Like many new-gen artists, being multifaceted in different areas is more common than not, but don't judge this book by its cover. She's looking for longevity in hip-hop. The Lexington, Ky. native can rap with a distinct flair, earning her a deal with Hitco Entertainment in 2019. Now, she's a 2021 XXL Freshman with goals of leaving a lasting legacy, all of which she shares in her version of XXL's ABCs.
Right from the start, Rubi brings it all back to humble beginnings. "Atlanta for A," says the 23-year-old rapper, who comes from a Mormon family. "I moved out here to do high school and college and I started my music career here, so." She's got her first mixtape, For the Streets, and collaborations with the likes of Future and PartyNextDoor on "Whole Lotta Liquor," among others, to show for it.
C.R.E.A.M. is her motto when it comes to C, ginormous for all things extravagant and over the top with G, and bubble gum ice cream is one of her favorite treats as the letter I pops up.
Love is the first word that comes to Rubi's mind for L. "I love love," she admits. "I'm a Libra. I love seeing people in relationships. I want myself in a relationship." Rubi, who was born to an East African mother and multiracial father—he was adopted and believed to be Japanese and White—certainly spreads the love throughout her ABCs to a variety of different women in her life. Karjah, her stylist, for K; Scarlette, her sister, for S and Zighereda, her grandmother, for Z. The rising artist also throws in her own name, which doubles as her government name and rap moniker, for R.
She's focused on "takin' over" as an XXL Freshman for T and has a fearless spirit in her goal to be an unforgettable name for U: "You will never forget my music, this face and my legacy that I'm going to be leaving."
With X, Rubi names one of the foremost leaders of the civil rights movement. "X is for Malcom X," she expresses. "Power to the people."
Get to know Rubi Rose as she reveals much of her personality in XXL's ABCs below.
RUBI ROSE'S TOP FIVE FAVORITE RAPPERS
Women in hip-hop are no longer few and far between. There's a resurgence of ladies who are besting many of their male counterparts these days. The 2021 XXL Freshman Class is reflective of the times, welcoming four women to have the honor this year. Rubi Rose is one of them. Her distinct voice and sexually charged lyrics have helped her gain a legion of supporters in a short period of time. After dropping "Big Mouth," a song showcasing her deep tone and playful energy, in 2019, it was up from there. But to get to this point, Rubi found some inspiration along the way in quite a few different rappers, namely Nicki Minaj, which she positions as her No. 1 pick when naming her top five favorite rappers.
"No. 1, Nicki Minaj. I love her ’cause she's the queen," shares Rubi, who calls Nicki the "Queen of Rap." "She's like the first female rapper that I really got into. Her looks, visuals, everything. I love it." Rubi was influenced by both Nicki and Cardi B on the come up, which Rubi revealed in her 2021 XXL Freshman cover story interview.
Keeping it close to the family, Rubi's top five list also includes one of Nicki's longtime friends. "Second, Drake, of course," Rubi says. "The Boy. What's not to love, every song. He makes me feel it. I cry. I'm in my feelings. I fuck with him." Even a self-proclaimed "raw" artist like Rubi embraces her emo side.
For her No. 3 choice, the rising rap newcomer shows love to an Atlanta hip-hop staple. "Three, Thugger," Rubi tells. "Love Young Thug. Atlanta legend. I don't understand most of the time what he's saying, but I can repeat it and I love it." Though she's a native of Lexington, Ky., Rubi went to college at Georgia State University as a poli-sci major. Her time in ATL really shaped her musical tastes. "No. 4 is Future Hendrix, another Atlanta legend," she follows up. "I love 'Codeine Crazy,'" DS2. Just everything this n***a puts out."
To round out her list, Rubi puts respect on a Chicago rapper who was a Freshman himself in 2014. "No. 5 would have to be Lil Durk," Rubi expresses. "He just became, I really only started listening to his music this year, but I listen to every song this n***a puts out. He's also very like, you hear the pain and fuckin' 'oomph' in his voice. I really fuck with Durk and what he's doing right now." One of her favorite Durk tracks is "When I'm Lonely," off the deluxe edition of his 2020 album, The Voice.
Take a look at Rubi Rose's selections for her top five favorite rappers below.
RUBI ROSE'S TOP FIVE FAVORITE HIP-HOP ALBUMS
Ask any rapper which artists have created their favorite hip-hop albums and they'll likely mull over the answer. The decision to narrow down every bit of inspiration and lyrical skill into just a few slots takes careful consideration. Give a response that the internet doesn't like and the roasting on social media will ensue. Fail to pick an artist that has a dedicated fan base and those same fans will likely criticize every choice thereafter. When it comes to Rubi Rose's top five favorite hip-hop albums, she stays true to herself, picking five rappers' projects that she personally connects to. The 23-year-old 2021 XXL Freshman has solid reasons for why each album from the five artists, who are also among her top five favorite rappers, makes her list.
First up, Rubi shows love to an Atlanta rapper whose melodic delivery and sing-song rhymes have inspired countless artists over the years. "Young Thug, the Barter 6," she says. "I know every song off that bitch. I moved to Atlanta the year it came out, so it was just, it gives me nostalgia." Rubi, who was raised in Lexington, Ky., moved to Atlanta to attend Georgia State University in 2015, the same year Thugger's Barter 6 dropped. The project brings her back to a time when she was focused on her academics.
Another artist who's made a multiplatinum-selling career off his gift of rapping and singing effortlessly makes it on to this rap neophyte's top five list. "No. 2, Drake's If You're Reading This It's Too Late," she says of Drizzy's 2015 project, which is actually a mixtape. "Love every song off that bitch, too. Gives me nostalgia, college days." While attending GSU a few years ago, Rubi was a poli-sci major.
The "Queen of Rap," according to Rubi, crafted an album that deserves a spot on her favorites. "No. 3, Nicki Minaj's Pink Friday, I love," Rubi maintains of the 2010 LP. "The queen snapped. But really she paved the way for other female artists like myself to just show that we can do what she's doing as well so I really fuck with that." In addition to Nicki's influence, Rubi also respects the artistry of women rappers Missy Elliott, Foxy Brown and Cardi B.
A more recent album from a Chicago rapper that has long been known as the "Voice of the Streets" follows. "No. 4 would have to be Lil Durk's The Voice. When I get lonely, I feel that right here," Rubi shares as she pounds on her chest. "I take drugs when I get lonely, too, Durk." Fans of Durkio know those are lyrics from "When I'm Lonely," a song on his 2020 deluxe album, The Voice.
Lastly, her list wouldn't be complete without another album from an ATL rapper who also serves up bangers for the streets. "No. 5 would have to be [Future's] DS2," Rubi adds. "I was in Atlanta when it dropped, so the culture and everybody fucking with it and vibing with it really made me like it. And It's really just a soundtrack for the streets so." Songs like "F*ck Up Some Commas," "Stick Talk" and "Where Ya At" featuring Drake on the 2015 LP were ringing off at the time.
Watch Rubi Rose share her connection to her favorite hip-hop albums below.
RUBI ROSE, POOH SHIESTY, FLO MILLI AND 42 DUGG'S 2021 XXL FRESHMAN CYPHER
There are some exciting regional scenes in rap right now and four of them are represented in the final 2021 XXL Freshman cypher. Rubi Rose reps the Bluegrass State of Kentucky, a place that’s also home to acts like Jack Harlow and EST Gee. Pooh Shiesty was bred in the streets of Memphis, a city that’s thriving with young spitters like NLE Choppa and OG leadership from people like Yo Gotti. Flo Milli came up out of the prospering hip-hop scene in Alabama, also bolstered by Grammy Award nominees like Chika. And 42 Dugg calls the chilling scene of Detroit his home alongside hood favorites like Sada Baby and Babyface Ray.
First up, Rubi Rose coasts onto the Nick Mira and Paryo-crafted beat. The haunting melody paired with 808 bass, which hits in different pockets, heightens her orotund tone as she offers a verse about being on demon time, humbling the sidepiece and having sauce that thousands of people want a taste of. “Pretty little face, but this body like a porn star/Shiesty little bitch, yeah, you know I’m going too far,” the 23-year-old rhymes.
The heavy southern drawl in Pooh Shiesty’s verse is up next. The 1017 signee delivers a two-part rhyme, separated with his signature "Blrrrd" ad-lib. The lyrics about his position as a cricket when the federals are asking for info, honoring his lost homies and still being ready to slide at any given moment despite being famous now aren't new. Fans who listened to the deluxe version of his Shiesty Season album will recognize the rhymes from the song "Murder Skool." “Been nothing but trouble since a child, now I’m making my mama proud/I can’t beef with niggas rolling mid, I’m booked at Rolling Loud,” he flaunts.
Flo Milli tags in on the follow-up, giving her fans game on how to secure the “no face, no case” method. She dances on the beat, shining light on the power of her aura before speeding up her flow to unveil the precision-based skills she has in her armory. “He finna treat me right ’cause I’m a lady, but I got him fucking me like I’m a ho/It ain’t nobody who do it like Milli/It ain’t nobody who hotter than Flo,” she raps with a chipper pace.
42 Dugg has the role of the anchor. Showcasing his slurred style of rap that he deems “shit-talking,” the 4PF and CMG divide spits about staying true to the mottos he learned in the streets, putting on for his gang and running through holes like a NFL running back: “You wifing her, I’m fucking that Niesha/They all know a Kiesha/I think she fucked a reaper/How you doing? Nice to meet you.”
Watch Rubi Rose, Pooh Shiesty, Flo Milli and 42 Dugg body their cypher, powered by FX's Dave, in full below.—Kemet High
POOH SHIESTY, RUBI ROSE, FLO MILLI AND 42 DUGG'S 2021 XXL FRESHMAN ROUNDTABLE INTERVIEW
Creating the XXL Freshman cover and its supporting content is typically a hectic but rewarding experience during the day of the shoot, which went down in Atlanta in May this year. Selected artists get pulled in different directions all day, and other than grouping up to hear the cypher beat, don’t often get time to sit down and converse with one another. The roundtable interview discussions that follow each cypher offer them that opportunity, with Rubi Rose, Pooh Shiesty, Flo Milli and 42 Dugg being the last batch to have their thoughts shared on the entire experience.
Lexington, Ky. native Rubi Rose speaks on the celebratory nature of the day’s events and meeting people who secured a spot on the same elevator to the top. “Today has been super lit, super cool," she recounts. "The cypher was a little scary. Everything else was a breeze, fun. And it was cool to meet my fellow freshmens."
Flo Milli adds to that, explaining that though there was a sense of pressure to capitalize on the platform, the energy was warmer than one might expect. “It kind of shows a light energy," the Mobile, Ala. talent explains. "Like you ain’t gotta be too serious about it and shit. But I definitely think it’s like a milestone for people who make it on there. ’Cause like, you only get a certain amount and it has such a big platform. So, I think it’s dope to be on here.”
The 2021 XXL Freshmen also spend time discussing their musical influences, tracing back the ingredients they used to create their own stylistic concoction. 42 Dugg, the hottest young artist out of Detroit right now, credits Jeezy and Yo Gotti as his inspirations. “Just ’cause they was talking some shit I was going through or some shit I was living," says the man who's been eating off of his recent release Free Dem Boyz. "So, I’ll probably say them, far as music. That’s all I used to listen to, for real."
The four artists also flex their awareness of what makes them special. For Memphis-bred Pooh Shiesty, it’s all about having a fresh, new flavor. “Talking about something different instead of just mumble rapping…,” the platinum-selling rapper says. “Different style, you gotta have your own sauce.”
Or else you’re lost, as his label head Gucci Mane once said.
You can watch Rubi Rose, Pooh Shiesty, Flo Milli and 42 Dugg’s 2021 XXL Freshman roundtable interview below.—Kemet High