The Meaning of Sublime’s “Waiting For My Ruca”

As the opening track to Sublime’s 1992 debut studio album, 40oz. To Freedom, “Waiting For My Ruca” kicks things off with a barking dog that one can only assume is Lou Dog. The track is extremely simple, featuring nothing more than a drum beat, Bradley Nowell’s voice, and a few harmonies here and there, however the meaning of the lyrics has often left fans scratching their heads.

Bradley was known to mix in Spanish words as well as slang words in his songwriting, and with “Waiting For My Ruca” he does just that. The lyrics tell a story of going out on the east side of Los Angeles, and going to a party with a woman named Ramona.

At the party, there are people everywhere having a good time, and Ramona starts feeling good. Ramona makes a move on Bradley, and he tells her “Ramona, please step back”.

That seems simple enough, but then Bradley explains his reason for turning Ramona down with the lyric, “‘Cause she’s my Ruca, I’m barely waiting for my hiena”. Here, Bradley is using hispanic slang words that refer to females.

There are several different meanings for ruca, which all vary depending on the person saying the word, but here Bradley is saying that this Ramona is a woman that he’s interested in, or his Ruca.

However, he has a hiena at home whom initially makes him want to be a stand-up guy and turn Ramona down. As you may have guessed, hiena is Spanish for hyena, the ugly-looking dog-like creature that is often associated with witchcraft and evil.

There are other definitions of hiena that suggest the word is actually spelled heina and comes from the Spanish root word Reina, which means Queen. So perhaps the word can be spelled either way, and can be defined as a combination of a queen and a hyena.

Bradley also uses the word in “Santeria”, there as a nickname for the woman who is cheating on him with a man named Sancho.

We soon see that Bradley was truly “barely waiting” for his hiena, as in the next verse we see him having a more intimate moment with Ramona. He talks about her occupation selling oranges by the freeway, and then asks her if he’s the only one. Ramona replies “you’re not the only one, but your the best Bradley”.

Finally, Bradley concludes, “And know now I waiting for my Ruca”, meaning that he’s waiting for his ruca to decide to make him the only one, or to come over. For now, he’s stuck with his hiena.

“I know tonight I’ll be behind her”, Bradley sings. Which woman he’s talking about with this line isn’t important, as Bradley is actively sleeping with both of them. His ruca is out with other men, while his hiena is by his side, and he won’t let anybody else sleep with her. “Don’t fuck around with my hiena.”

It can be inferred that if Bradley’s ruca ever does come around to choose him, she will take on the role that his hiena currently has, and the cycle will continue as soon as Bradley finds another woman like Ramona.

Watch a fan-made music video for “Waiting For My Ruca” by Sublime below.

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