Elevator 18: Ana Tijoux

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Ana Tijoux has a global voice. She raps in Spanish and French. When asked what her first language is, she responds: ‘My parents used to speak to me in Spanish and I used to answer everything in French. I think I’ve got both languages in my head.’

She was born in Lille, France to Chilean parents living in political exile during the Pinochet dictatorship. The family moved back to Chile when Ana was 14. The hip-hop culture she embraced in France proved to be truly global and provided continuity in her new life in South America. Soon she was rapping as part of popular hip-hop group Makiza.

Her solo albums ‘Kaos’ released in 2007 and the Grammy nominated ‘1977’ in 2009 paved the way for her most accomplished full-length release ‘La Bala’. It’s this album, which translates as ‘The Bullet’, I want to point you towards. It is a fiery, mature, diverse piece of work.

Shock is a protest song. “Poison: your monologues,” Tijoux raps. “Your black and white speeches, you don’t see that we aren’t alone, millions from pole to pole!”

In the song ‘No Sacar La Voz’ she speaks: ‘Walk upright and breathe, fearlessly speak out’

Then there’s this absolute bruiser of a track ‘Las Cosas por su Nombre’, Tijoux’s blunt response to the Chilean Minister of Culture’s criticism of some of her Twitter content.

One fan at a gig in Oakland, California pointed out: “She’s the essence of hip-hop, She’s speaking truths, she’s speaking revolution.”

And that’s a striking aspect of Tijoux’s delivery. She’s a speaker not a shouter, a rapper not a ranter, a singer not a show-off. The voices of dissident that are actually heard and feared are not the hysterical ones but rather the ones that speak truth clearly, confidently and consistently. Ana Tijoux is a wordsmith, a versatile vocalist, a protestor, a mum and an international rap elevator.

‘La Bala’s closer ‘Volver’ is so beautiful and mellow I couldn’t resist adding it to this post, despite it featuring no rap whatsoever.

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