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For Nomi Ruiz, making music that speaks to her experience is her first, second and third consideration when making a song. If her music isn't authentic to who she is, then why even make it in the first place? And that authenticity comes in the form of hip-hop and soul.
That fact is present on the singer's latest single "Cocaino" (premiering below), the first from her long-awaited album Jet Black, due out next year. A smooth, scintillating jam, the song features classic sounds from hip-hop, R&B and soul, as the singer smoothly croons about wanting her lover like they're a drug: she's hooked and can't get enough.
In an interview with Billboard ahead of the song's release, Ruiz said that she wanted to capture the sound of "early '90s hip-hop" because that's the music that informed her artistry as she grew up. "My mom would play oldies at home all the time. Hip-hop sampled those tracks so there was something nostalgic yet emotional to hip hop at that time that helped me express myself," she says. "It wasn't all about money, it was about emotion and rebellion and escapism."
After deciding that she wanted to pay tribute to her idols, like Nas and Mobb Deep, Ruiz went about finding the right collaborators, along with her producer Michael Moreno, to make her vision a reality. That's when she found Josh Werner & Gintas Janusonis, two all-star producers who had worked with some of her other idols, the Wu-Tang Clan.
"I knew they could bring so much to these songs and take them to the next level," she says. "It'd been a while since I worked in the studio with musicians. I missed that collaborative spirit. They took me to a place I'd wanted to be for so long and made me fall in love with music all over again."
Ruiz's fans have been patiently waiting for her to return to her solo music — after working with groups like Hercules & the Love Affair and her own creation Jessia 6 in the mid-2000s, the star's music career has been largely silent (though Ruiz herself has not, with a role on FX's Mayans MC, and a stunning career as an essayist on the transgender experience). After years of shifting her sound, and chasing new paths, Ruiz says that she hopes her fans get to know her even better with her latest single. "I want them to get a sense of where I come from, who I am today and more than anything," she says, adding "I want to serve them music they can have sex in cars to."
Check out Nomi Ruiz's "Cocaino" below:
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