Rapper Ana Tijoux is incredibly busy these days since the March 18 release of her third, highly anticipated album, Vengo: The day after the release, the mother of two was at SxSW rocking the stage at four different showcases followed by concert dates in San Francisco, L.A. and Tijuana -- and most recently on Sunday, the Roots Factory presented Tijoux with the Kumbia Queers and Cumbia Machin here at the sold-out Casbah house. Despite all the hectic Vengo promotion, Tijoux keeps parenthood and rap career in tune to a well-planned scheduled by bringing her now 1-year-old daughter, Emilia on tour with her -- no nanny. Now, that's impressive.
In 2006, she went solo. In 2007, Tijoux skyrocketed out of the Chilean rap scene into mainstream Latin Alternative success with the collaboration with Julieta Venegas, “Eres Para Mi.” That same year, she released her debut solo album Kaos, which garnered nominations for Best New Artist and Best Urban Artist at the Latino MTV Video Music Awards. In 2010, her U.S. crossover hit “1977” (Tijoux's birth year) got her tons of props. Thom Yorke, lead singer of Radiohead, even recommended the single as a must listen on the band's official website. The single also got placement on AMC's hit series Breaking Bad and on EA's FIFA video game. That same year, Tijoux performed "1977" with the Roots as her backing band for Grammys weekend.
The multi-Grammy nominated rapper from Chile could be likened to a Lauryn Hill of rap en Espanol. Tijoux, like Hill, out-rapped and outgrew her male comrade crew, Makiza. And like Hill, she can seamlessly spit verses and belt out memorable hooks. Tijoux is exactly the type of rapper we need to keep checks and balances within the male-dominated rap industry. Her breath control and rap technique is as sharp as a Jay-Z with a Bahamadia silkiness. Tijoux raps about real life, colonialism and motherhood -- all intertwined over golden-era '90s beats that never go out of style.
This year, Vengo challenges the Tijoux fan to hear her rap with a live band and native Andean instruments. The same-titled single is a powerful story-telling, horn-heavy introduction to her third effort: “Vengo, en busca de respuestas con el manojo lleno y las venas abiertas/Vengo, como un libro abierto, ansiosa de aprender la historia no contada de nuestros ancestros.” [Translation: “I come for answers, with a bundle of full and open veins/I come as an open book eager to learn the untold story of our ancestors.”]
If you've seen the Vengo cover artwork, you'll know that Ana Tijoux is our earthly rap superhero who intends to give it to you straight, no chaser. What you see is what you get. I predict another Grammy nod for Tijoux -- my fingers are crossed she will finally break the Susan Lucci curse. I caught up with my Chilean sister from another mother at the Casbah before her show for sage advice to fellow female rappers on the come-up and to learn more of the making of a sample-free Vengo.
Watch GN$F!'s exclusive interview with Ana Tijoux here. For the latest news, follow @anatijoux on Twitter.
Dita Quinones is a multimedia journalist born in Tijuana with a passion for Latin alternative and hip-hop music news. Her main goal is to uplift and inform so that the Latino, Filipino and Hip-Hop community get knitted into the fabric of American history. In addition to SoundDiego, she contributes to Latina, FOX News Latino, Poder, VidaVibrante, San Diego CityBeat and HipHopDx. She is also the founder of the infamous music and politrix blog GN$F! Follow Dita on Twitter or on Facebook.