It’s easy to be enthralled by Ana Tijoux’s music. One of the leading rap singers in Latin America, her hard-hitting beats, her socially conscious powered rhymes and poetic lyrics mix into powerful songs that have won over fans around the world.
In her latest album Vengo Tijoux reaches from her personal experience as a woman, a mother and an artist, toward social concerns. Successfully incorporating panpipes, charangos and other Latin American folk instruments, she raps about women’s rights, anti-colonialism and human rights. Tijoux celebrates her indigenous roots with the title track Vengo and, with Los Peces gordos no pueden volar, she tells her children to be strong in their beliefs. In her powerful song Antipatriarca she raises her voice for women, reminding them of their strength and beauty.
“No sumisa ni obediente
mujer fuerte insurgente
independiente y valiente
romper las cadenas de lo indiferente
no pasiva ni oprimida
mujer linda que das vida”
Not submissive nor obedient, strong, independent, courageous, beautiful woman, you who give life.
Tijoux admitted being very ignorant about feminism until she read and learnt from the Chilean poet Gabriela Mistral (the first Latin American woman to receive the Nobel Prize in Literature) and French writer Simone de Beauvoir.
“Every female singer must compete in an infinite game of provocation. Now nothing is enough, and nothing is too much”
Since Antipatriarca, she has also written an essay for the Walker Art Center’s Artist Op-Eds series about the female objectification in the music industry, denouncing that:
“Every female singer must compete in an infinite game of provocation. Now nothing is enough, and nothing is too much, the goal is to put everything on display, always setting a new challenge with a higher bar: who can show more and more, who can achieve the most extreme contortions in the most acrobatic way, who is the most desirable, and who has the highest ability to annul the most beautiful femininity, to transform it into something and not someone.”
Presently one of the most influential MC, Ana Tijoux is well known for her passion and her use of music as form of protest against international social injustice.
Born in France to Chilean parents who fled Gen. Pinochet’s dictatorship, Tijoux remembers politics always being discussed by her family and naturally for her, music became a normal way to express her views. She began listening to hip-hop with her friends from Algeria, Morocco and from other parts in Africa. In her words “hip-hop is the land of the people that don’t have a land”.
In 1993 Tijoux returned to Chile and in the late 1990’s she became well-known as part of the group Mazika, a bestselling Chilean rap group. She later decided to pursue a solo career and in 2010 gained international recognition with her second album 1977, when her title track was featured in hit TV series Breaking Bad. The album, entitled after the year of her birth and released in October 2009, is largely autobiographical and it pays tribute to the “golden age of hip-hop”. Ana Tijoux rapped in both Spanish and French and soon gained recognition as a leading MC.
Two years later Anita mixes different musical styles, using rap, jazz, soul and R&B to create the album La Bala (literally “The Bullet”). She touches on economic collapse and social movements such as the Occupy protests. In her track Shock, inspired by the book The Shock Doctrine in which Canadian author Naomi Klein challenges the myth that global free market triumphed democratically, Ana Tijoux criticizes neoliberalism and governmental corruption. She dedicated the song to student protestors in Chile who, in 2011, demanded free education.
Ana Tijoux’s new single, Calaveritas, was released for free download in June 2016. Forget hip-hop and rap, this single pays tribute to all dearly departed with bolero and Peruvian ballad sounds. Surprising and delighting us once again.
Feature Photo: Cancha General, via Wikimedia Commons