French-Chilean activist rapper Ana Tijoux’s mastery of rhyme builds upon the superb poetic traditions of her homeland, which includes two Nobel Prizes in Poetry (Gabriela Mistral and Pablo Neruda, 1945 and 1971, respectively).
In many senses, she also advances the legacy of Nueva Canción Latinoamericana, the activist musical movement founded by assasinated Chilean singer/songwriter Victor Jara, whom she mentions specifically as an influence in interviews.
Here are five essential Tijoux videos, and for your reading pleasure, we’ve also added links to the lyrics so you can savor their full power and effect: No doubt Tijoux’s hip hop is the poetic soundtrack to our 21st Century.
The Grammy-nominated “1977” was the second solo album Tijoux released. Its title song was featured in Breaking Bad, amongst other unusual placings. 1977 is a largely autobiographical tour-de-force and shares the roots of an musical activism forged in her family’s years of exile to France during the Pinochet dictatorship in Chile.
Tijoux featured the song Shock from her second album “La Bala” in a video directed by Alex Rivera, interspersing images of protesters of SB 1070, Arizona’s infamous anti-immigrant law (ruled largely unconstitutional by the Supreme Court in 2012).
Also from “La Bala”, Tijoux’s collaboration with Uruguayan singer/songwriter Jorge Drexler was featured in a video co-directed by Tijoux herself. It shows everyday people in different daily activities searching for a means to express freedom sexually, politically, socially and culturally.
Here’s Tijoux at her most melodic (an increasing trend in her compositions from the “1977” recording to the present, as she incorporates more and more live instruments both in her recordings as well as her live show). The song protests the Trans Pacific Partnership (which will limit individual countries’ freedoms in terms of protecting consumers, workers and the environment). The TPP is being negotiated in secret between 12 countries including Chile, that all together represent almost 40% of world GDP and 25% of global exports.
Tijoux takes her activism global in this version of a song from her latest album, “Vengo“, which features Shadia Mansour , the London-born Palestinian artist known as the “First Lady of Arab Hip Hop.” The song is a celebration of the power of language as these two transcontinental divas trade rhymes in the hopes of a better future for us all.
Ana Tijoux will perform October 5 at Subterranean Cabaret.