“It is my declaration that my mother and I will make it in this country,” young rapper Ruby Ibarra writes in her Tiny Desk Concert submission to NPR.
Despite not winning the annual contest, Ibarra’s song “Someday,” a powerful love letter addressed to her immigrant Filipina mother, stood out in a year that saw more than 6,000 video entries.
“Someday” reflects the complexities of living in the Filipino diaspora through the hardships of her mother. They both immigrated to the United States in 1991.
"She was the matriarch and the patriarch in our household," Ibarra tells NPR. "She was always my example of what it meant to be Pinay, a woman who pretty much did s*** on her own, carried everything on her own back.”
Ibarra was first introduced to hip-hop when she saw Filipino rap icon Francis Magalona on television in the Philippines. After moving to the Bay Area, she was exposed to artists like Lauryn Hill and Wu-Tang Clan, whose lyrical style and political slant can be found in her music, including her mixtape CIRCA91.
Her music has been lauded both in the Philippines and abroad. She was featured in a music video commercial with African-American singer SZA and other artists for Mastercard.
In an interview with PAPER, Ibarra says she continues to champion Filipina voices with her mantra of “island women rise” or “brown women rise”— an attempt for Filipino-American women to reclaim their narrative.
Listen to Ruby Ibarra and her band The Balikbayans perform “Someday” here:
This article originally appeared on VICE ASIA.