Ana Tijoux: Latin America's hottest female rapper makes her headlining SA debut
Published: May 9, 2012
French-Chilean rapper Ana Tijoux likes surprises. When she left Makiza, her first group, in 2001, she didn't write any music until 2004. Her solo debut Kaos (2007), however, proved she could hold her own, and 1977 (2009) became her international calling card. She had been cooking in silence, then delivered with a lethal one-two punch.
"I needed some distance to see whether I really wanted to take the [musical] path and pay the price of making that decision," she said in Spanish from Santiago, Chile. "I had to leave the music scene and see whether I needed music to the point of making it for reasons that went beyond obtaining fame. I think I more than answered that question."
Boy, did she. 1977 earned rave reviews, the eponymous single was featured in AMC's Breaking Bad, the album peaked at number one on iTunes Latino's reggaetón/hip-hop chart, and took her to South by Southwest, San Francisco's Outside Lands, and Chicago's Lollapalooza. She also had the Roots as her backing band during a Grammy weekend in Los Angeles. But 1977's impact was nothing compared to what happened to La Bala, her latest CD.
As its title indicates, it is a bullet of an album. She raps each line with unprecedented urgency, and her critique of global capitalism is as ferocious and well-informed as Naomi Klein's The Shock Doctrine (the single "Shock" is, in fact, directly inspired by the book).
"The biggest challenge between [1977 and La Bala] was not to repeat any formula whatsoever," said Tijoux, who on the new album raps and sings with equal conviction. "1977 had great reviews, but I needed silence in order to listen inside of me for the manner in which I wanted to say things next. La Bala is much more organic in every way. I wanted classic instruments I had never worked with before, and I wanted to write my lyrics in a more screenplay-like form."
The album, which debuted at number one in iTunes Latino's reggaetón/hip-hop charts and number two in Billboard's Latin Rhythmic charts, includes second single "Sacar la voz" ("To Get One's Voice Out")*, a collaboration with Oscar-winning singer-songwriter Jorge Drexler. "[Drexler] is an amazing lyricist, the type that moves you and lights up your soul," she said. "More than a collaboration, it was a conversation with music. It is beautiful because it's so simple."
For her San Antonio headlining debut* at the last Échale event of the year, she comes with a trio format, accompanied by DJ Dacel and her producer Andrés Celis on drums and keyboards. And while her message, as exemplified by her first promotional videos for La Bala, resonates particularly strong among Chilean students, her message applies to anyone, including Chicanos who are trying to keep Mexican-American studies alive in Arizona.
"My message as a mother and citizen of the world is that [students] should keep on fighting and dreaming with the same strength, whether it's in Chile or Arizona," Tijoux said. "The challenge is to change an uneven system that only nourishes a certain social class. We all must organize as a society, on all fronts. This is a fight for life and dignity." •
Échale Latino Music Estyles feat. Ana Tijoux and Chico Trujillo
7pm Fri, May 11
Pearl Park Amphitheater
200 E Grayson
* Originally reported as Tijoux's "debut," but she performed here previously in 2010.
* Originally reported as "Alzar la voz" ("To Raise One's Voice"). The Current regrets the error.
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