I think it's safe to say the fiercest female Spanish rapper out is Ana Tijoux. Born Anamaría Merino in France circa 1977 to a French mother and Chilean father in political exile, the Santiago, Chile-based hip hop artist just dropped her new album, La Bala, today. I've had her Elefant Mixtape on repeat since I discovered it, and her previous album, 1977, was a hip hop lover's dream.
I can't wait to immerse myself in La Bala, which features 11 new tracks recorded in Santiago and mixed and mastered in Detroit, Michigan. Tijoux collaborated with Academy Award-winning Uruguayan composer Jorge Drexler (Motorcycle Diaries) on La Bala, so expect the sounds of classical tuba and violin. I caught up with the floetrist, who's traveling through South America to promote the album, to see what inspired this project.
What are your passions outside of music? Documentary films. I feel like they are the rap of cinema.
How do you balance being a mom and a musician? I balance as any working mother does...it's not easy.
What issues do you address on your new album? I was reflecting on the world and what was happening in Chile. Perhaps this arose with all the traveling I did with 1977 and the reception that it had globally. 1977 was personal; something I had to tell people about myself. La Bala is more of a conversation with people everywhere.
Is the student uprising in Chile connected with the Occupy Movement? I think all of these social movements are connected. Most of the problems that people around the world are confronting are similar: poverty, education, health, the politics of the ghetto and how they segregate people and establish different social classes. We're all connected in this fight.
What's the education system like in Chile? Are there really no free schools? Chile has a private education system that was established during the dictatorship. After 20 years of "democratic" governments, the same system continues, and they've pushed privatization to the limit. Education is very expensive in Chile, so we can't talk of equality, we can't talk of democracy...only of a dictatorship that decides what kind of future our kids and society have. Yes, there are free schools, but in very bad conditions. The student movement is about providing free, quality education to all the youth of Chile. In a country as wealthy as ours, it shouldn't be difficult.
What's your philosophy on the Mayan calendar ending in 2012? What does it symbolize to you? I believe 2012 is more of an opening of consciousness than the end of the world. The world can't sustain this way of life and the current system anymore.
Do you consider yourself a political artist? Why or why not? I think we are all political in a sense that we have a point of view about the world. Many people are afraid to use the word "political" because of politicians, corruption, and all the bad things associated with the word. In my mind, everything is political; even love. I'm interested in politics and trying to understand the world around me and my relation to it.
Do you think all politicians are the same? I think there are amazing politicians, but they're not in government or they don't have power. Some of them are teachers at universities or students who have a refreshing, new vision about politics. A big problem in Chile, and I hear in the U.S. as well, is the electoral process. It's really hard for anyone new to break into politics without a lot of money, and once people are in government, it's even harder to get them out. The people who get into government, control the money then make laws to keep them in power. It's a cycle no one's been able to break without having a revolution.
Have you spent any time in the U.S.? What was your experience like? In the last two years, I've been to the U.S. maybe six or seven times. I've been to California, Chicago, and the East Coast. The most surprising thing for me was the people. I didn't expect to meet such great people and encounter such really good friends. People around the world speak badly about "gringos" and the U.S., but it's not the people that are bad. I've met some of my best friends there.
Word. Thanks for dropping knowledge. Good luck spreading the word. --Kamren Curiel
Sample and download Ana Tijoux's new song "La Bala" here:
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