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Background (ft. Ann One)

from by Ruby Ibarra

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They sense the vibe in my vibrato, love the skin I’m in but I know/
That’s the reason that my father always drownin’ down a bottle/
Mama I’m tryna make it, but the odds against me/
These people say to fake it, but my selling points me/
Pray for me, dont praise me - /
I got too many inner demons that constantly doubt and always try to break me/
They wonder why I hate me - /
I don’t see myself in places of power but I’ve been thinkin’ like it lately/
I’m feelin’ like I’m 8 feet - /
With two tongues, my words aimin like the guns that they point at kuyas face see/
Ate can you paint me - /
Is what my youngest sister’s sayin’ ‘cuz we never seen her face up on that TV/
That’s nothin like me, until, I don’t like me/
I mean, is it likely, So I, I just write me, in these, poems nightly/
Which means, I just fight me, between songs that might be/
A scene from my life, see, I seen/
My head above the water, so how will I raise a daughter?/
When the currency don’t offer, same piso to a dollar/
I’m the daughter of 2 immigrants been workin that blue collar/
And these days they barely talk unless they dream across the water/

I’m tried of playing just the background, background/
But when I’m down, it go back ‘round, back ‘round/
I never been the type to back down, back down/
I bounce back and I’m back now, back now/

I never been the type to…

I don’t know why sometimes I feel blind/
They say you’re gone all the time, but trust it weighs on my mind/
Maybe all I know is I’ll make it this time/
You see, I do this for mine, trust I’ll make it this time/

I make my mind stretch for every line that I might etch/
Thinkin’ ‘bout the next rhyme like how come I ain’t signed yet?/
My dreams ain’t farfetched, I’m feelin like this is the last stretch/
Runnin’ through that finish line, been runnin’ from the past yet/
So bare with me the wait to, my magnum opus debut/
Mic check, first take it’s Day 2, we live, we never take two/
Swimming’ the high tides, we swallowing our pride/
We buy into their lies, I’m silent with my cries/
We trying to cut ties, a citizen part time/
She holding a 9-5, he holding a nine, five times/
He couldn’t swallow pride, so he called it a piped lie/
My father, he don’t cry, he talk, but I don’t try/
The music flowing deep under the “flat” nose and skin “tones”/
“Sharpest” of the “accents,” but we at home in these poems/
Thicker than the fumes in the Manila sky, broken dreams and severed ties/
Came here when we broke the sky, check it/
I’m the “food for thought” “heavyweight,” make the letters levitate/
Trying to be one of the greats, trust me, time will tell my fate/
So tell me, Ruby, tell me, why the hell you still afraid?
Your only enemy is you and that’s from yesterday/



I scrub. Over and over/
With each stroke a technique masterfully taught to me by my colonizers/
That skin as brown as my father’s hands and as deep as the lines around my mother’s eyes/
Nose and skin/
Eyes and smile/
Name and accent--/
Indicators of where I came from, past the Pacific Ocean where the air is a bit more tight and the sun's rays a bit more strong/
I imagine the distant days when we'd bathe in the rain, the water naturally warm as it fell on my skin/
I would look down and see my reflection in the puddles that would form beneath my feet/
Distorted - but perfectly clear/
Brown body gleaming in the reflection/
But scrub harder/
They say papaya soap only works when it burns. And It burns deep. So scrub harder/
When we played outside on hot days, our mothers would say we smell just like the sun/
You don’t wanna be in the sun...they all say/
We are taught to fear darkness but ironically find solace in the shade/
But this skin, was built to change colors like chameleons/
This skin was built to absorb the sun til it blooms/
This skin that many spend their days hating, was built to reflect the stories of our ancestors/
You don't want to smell like the sun!/
Ruby stay out of the sun!/
So scrub harder!/
Scrub harder!/
I look down now/
And this time/
I see my color wash away with the water./


from CIRCA91, released October 3, 2017
Produced by Smiley


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Ruby Ibarra San Lorenzo, California

Ruby Ibarra is a rapper, spoken word artist, and producer from the Bay Area, CA.

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