Even if you’re not versed in Chilean underground hip-hop, surely you’ve heard of talented female MC Anita Tijoux who briefly crossed over to the mainstream a couple of years ago with her collaboration on Julieta Venegas’ smash hit “Eres Para Mí.” However, Tijoux’s career goes back way over a decade, and includes plenty of other guest appearances with a variety of well-known artists including Latin music stars Control Machete, Bajofondo’s Supervielle, and Latin Bitman.
This October, after changing “Anita” for simply “Ana” and leaving behind her faux-pas flirting with the pop world, she has delivered her second solo album, 1977, an autobiographical conceptual piece which revisits her roots as a raw hip-hop lyricist. Let’s just say, this is where we like her best.
Born in Paris, France, daughter to political exiles of Pinochet’s dictatorial regime, Ana María Tijoux moved to Santiago de Chile at the age of 13 and soon enough got involved in the then-emerging local hip-hop scene. Along with three other kids of Chilean expatriates born abroad she formed Makiza in 1997 and in 1999 released Aerolíneas Makiza (1999) on Sony Music, an album which didn’t get the props it deserved in its time (partly due to Tijoux’s sudden break from the group and surprising decisions to drop her rapping career all together) but its still considered one of the best Latin hip-hop/ rap en español albums ever recorded.
So where has Tijoux been all these years? Desiring to build her persona as an artist beyond categorization, this has been a period of experimentation, changes, collaborations (i.e Julieta Venegas) and crisis (she got married, became a mother, got divorced, reunited with Makiza for a 2005 album, broke up again…).
Tijoux also attemped a semi-comeback in 2007 with her solo debut, Kaos (Julieta returns the favor as guest rapper in single “Gol”), a response for her years of crisis. Kaos “was not chicha, nor lemonade,” as she describes it now, using a popular Chilean slang.
Check out 1977, and you’ll notice Tijoux is not only back in her element with optimism, but that this second solo album marks a true reconciliation with her first love, rapping. “I was happy while recording it, I felt more comfortable doing something that flows out naturally from me” she claims.
With the production of rapper/producer Hordatoj (A.K.A. Jotadroh) and Foex, 1977 was recorded in three months through the Chilean winter of 2009. “I wanted to make a straightforward album, just good lyrics, good beats, good samples and good scratch… and that’s it,” hip-hop in its purest state. But a kind of sensitive, down-to-earth hip-hop that is not only aimed at hardcore b-boys and b-girls but almost anybody can relate to, very far away from the current commercialization and bastardization of American rap music.
Why “1977”? Tijoux claims that during her teenage years in the mid-nineties she was obsessed with the dark New York underground sound of seminal albums like Nas’ Illmatic, Wutang Clan’s 36 Chambers, and A Tribe Called Quest’s Midnight Marauder “I started writing again and listening those old rap albums that for me are like classics. It was like running into your first ex-boyfriend after many years and falling in love all over again. And that’s when I decided to make a rap album” she says.
She continues “I’ve been getting a lot of positive feedback since it came out. A lot of people are like ‘finally the rap album we were expecting,’ a lot of that, and also some ‘finally you went back to what you know how to do’ (laughs). Oh well, you have to live your own crisis. I don’t regret anything I did.”
Next year awaits with big promises for Tijoux, “releasing the album in Argentina, Mexico, Spain and Germany, going on tour to Europe, even China! Playing again at Vive Latino in Mexico City and hopefully coming to the US” she says. In the meantime we can enjoy her amazing video for 1977, directed and produced by her baby-daddy Didi Moreno, where she’s looking girlier than ever, “He forced me to wear skirt!” she told us bashfully. Chicos, Anita’s in-love. Again.