• 27Apr

    Fresh Since 1977: Ana Tijoux Interview

    It always amazes me how universal hip-hop is. I mean I know it’s reached worldwide popularity however I am still surprised when I see the effect it has in music in other countries. Take Chile for instance. There, rapera Ana Tijoux is being hailed as Latin America’s fiercest MC. Born in France to a French mother and a Chilean father in political exile, she found home in the emerging hip-hop scene of Santiago de Chile and started rhyming first in French, then in Spanish. Her first album Kaos got her nominated for the Latin version of the MTV Video Music Awards in 2007 for Best New Artist and Best Urban Artist. At the same time she was nominated for song of the year together with Julieta Venegas for “Eres Para Mí”. After taking South America by storm now Ana Tijoux is invading America. Her US debut, 1977, named after the year she was born, pays homage to the classic albums of hip-hop’s golden age—Illmatic, 36 Chambers and Midnight Marauder. The album encompasses her life in both Chile and France with sophisticated lyrics and dynamic beats. After years of sharing the spotlight with others she has finally arrived in her own right–a raw, direct, and mature solo MC. On the heels of launching a 20 city U.S. tour Ana talks to BrooklynBodega.com about being a female MC in Chile and why she loves hip-hop.

    BB: How did you get started in hip-hop?

    Ana Tijoux: I began like 12 years ago freestlying with my friends. I never thought I’d make it my career you know. It started because I used to write a lot as a teenager; just my feelings and thoughts and then it progressed. Then I started doing it on a more professional level.

    BB: It’s always amazing to me to see the reach of hip-hop culture in other countries. Who did you listen to growing up as a kid in Chile?

    Ana Tijoux: I loved Bahamadia, The Roots, as well as Bohemian and folklorico music. Just a mix of genres.

    BB: What is it about the genre of hip-hop that drew you to it?

    Ana Tijoux: I love the force; I love the energy, just the freedom. The reason I love hip-hop in my case is because it’s one of the places where I feel I can be really free. When I rap I don’t think at all – I just write it, I feel it. The lyrics are so freeing for me because I just say whatever I feel, it’s a great moment for me, that’s what I love about music, the intuition of it. I don’t know how else to explain it, I just feel it.

    BB: Do you ever feel like you receive a lot of criticism for being a female rapper vs. a male in the industry?

    Ana Tijoux: No, I never do. I always get a lot of support from those around me, at least here in Chile. If perhaps that did happen I wouldn’t put any attention to it because it’s about music and about energy at the end of the day. It’s bigger than being a guy or a woman; it’s about the universe that you want to show.

    BB: What artists influence your music?

    Ana Tijoux: There are so many! I couldn’t say one person because I love so many types of music. I love afro beat, I love Fela Kuti, Erykah Badu, and I love Brazilian music – so many different musicians.

    BB: Are there any other Latinos in the game right now that you respect, that you think are doing it right now?

    Ana Tijoux: I really respect the music of Ruben Blades. I remember being young around 8 or 9 and hearing one of his songs – it was the first time I heard lyrics that were so profound that touched my soul. I remember thinking wow, how can I create that? I wanted to use words to create that feeling for someone else. To touch that very special, sensitive place we all have. It’s about the lyrics, the funk, the energy, the sadness. I think of him as a rapper, he doesn’t make rap music but for me it is an energy.

    BB: What American artists are you really into right now?

    Ana Tijoux: I really like Invincible. I think she has a lot of talent. I love her lyrics, her voice, and her energy. I really like her as a person too; she is a complete artist to me. There are so many others, too many for me to list. Too many people are making great music, they are blowing my mind! I hate them (laughs).

    BB: Tell me about your new album 1977. You cover a lot of different topics.

    Ana Tijoux: I talk about everything. I don’t like to just stick to one topic like love or politics; I like to talk about everything. The point is to not stop what you feel. The idea of the album overall is humanity – to learn about yourself and be real to yourself. It’s not about one topic – it’s about the beauty of the fight, about love, about music, it’s about the crisis, it’s about everything.

    BB: Speaking of Invincible earlier, she is featured on your song “Sube”. How did that collabo happen?

    Ana Tijoux: I am very critical when it comes to rap you know. A lot of times I may not understand everything the artist is saying in English so I rely a lot on their flow and style. So when I came across Invincible’s music I was like wow, she is amazing. I fell in love with her immediately. Then I went to her MySpace page and I told her I really liked her music and that I thought she was amazing. So she responded on my page and said “I really like your stuff too!” It was very simple. I told her I was working on my album here in Chile and I don’t have money but that I would like her to be on my album. And she said of course. So I sent over the track with my lyrics translated and she did the same. I am really proud to know her and to have her on the album.

    BB: So it wasn’t about money at all, that’s so dope…

    Ana Tijoux: Yes, it’s about energy I told you! (laughs) I love to work with artists I admire. Of course there are things we may not have here [in Chile] because we don’t have so much money so we may not have that much production but what we have is passion. It’s the same passion I saw in Invincible for example. When you find that in another person it’s not about money, it’s about love.

    BB: What makes you so different from other artists out now?

    Ana Tijoux: Hmmm I don’t know. I don’t think I can answer that, maybe my listeners could. I think that would be so egotistical for me to say I’m different because of xyz.

    BB: How was it to work with Julieta Venegas on her song “Eres Para Mi”?

    Ana Tijoux: It was amazing because we make such different music with her. She is this pop artist that talks about love all the time and I don’t usually do that so for me it was very new. We had been friends for a long time so she sent me this song she was working on at the time talking love. She was telling the guy “you are for me”. For me it was very interesting to work in another type of music I don’t make. It made me open my mind and step out of my comfort zone as a rapper. It was a great project!

    BB: So what’s next for you now?

    Ana Tijoux: Right now I am in Chile working on some new ideas I have for music. Then in May I go to Mexico for some concerts, then back here in Chile for a few shows. In July I will be in New York for LAMC, so we are preparing for that now. And otherwise I am just trying to be happy [with the music] I make and be happy with the people that I love – that’s my project. That’s the idea of life, no?

    Ana’s “1977” is out now on iTunes and everywhere on April 27th.

Discussion 2 Responses

  1. April 27, 2010 at 5:45 pm

    Thanks for featuring and introducing your audience to hip-hop music from all over South America! Fresh! Is she playing the Brooklyn Hip-Hop Fest this summer??? WE HOPE!

  2. April 28, 2010 at 5:56 am

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