18 March (Nacional Records)
So for spring break I planned to listen to Beck’s Morning Phase and Skrillex’s Recess but there was a bump in the road. Ana Tijoux started streaming her latest album Vengo on NPR and so far it is the strongest contender for album of the year.
Tijoux was one the members of the hip- hop collective Makiza that was making waves in Chile in the late 90’s and somewhat into the 2000’s. Tijoux hit the world stage with her track 1977 off her album of the same name. It gained notoriety when it appeared in an episode of Breaking Bad but her legacy extends far beyond that. From Kaos, her first solo album of 2007 to her 2011 La Bala, Ana Tijoux has made nothing less than three phenomenal albums (I didn’t hear the Elefant Mixtape so I can’t comment on it). Vengo keeps up this tradition and is my early pick for the 2014 Album of the Year.
Balancing life with a newborn and another child is one thing, but to do so and make an album is unreal. Yet that’s how the album was made. Tijoux said to the San Francisco Bay Guardian “I learned time is a precious treasure and so valuable. I can’t lose time anymore in stupidity. The time I have is for creation or friends and family. It was hard to be honest, but really amazing”. Exhaustion usually brings out the worst in people but for Tijoux it seemingly brought out the best. Her lyrics are as poignant and powerful as ever. One thing worth mentioning is that Tijoux is not your average rapper, lyrically speaking. She is not singing about popping bottles or superficial relationships. She instead focuses her time trying to “decolonize the mind”. She holds back nothing and takes on racism, sexism, the oppression of persons globally and a variety of other issues. However, she is not an ass about it. It seems as though most politically charged musicians are in your face telling you their thoughts and ideologies. Tijoux’s approach is a bit more subtle, she makes you think, and then come to the your own conclusion on issues. The result is pretty much the same but the delivery is preferable.
Aside from the lyrics, the production on this album is impeccable. What makes it even more impressive is the lack of samples, with the total being zero. A band recorded everything you hear on the album. That being said I would like to cite specific producers but being a Chilean artist it is hard to find information about the production on her latest album. Tijoux wanted to return to her roots and it is evident by the “Mapuche” sounding flutes and horns. You can feel the bass reach down into your bones and force you to move whether you want to or not. As far as guests there are only four features on the album that is capped by RR Burning’s touching addition on the track Emilia, a track dedicated to her newborn daughter (of the same name).
Bottom line is this; Ana Tijoux is the best rapper right now, male or female. Her overall body of work on is better than anyone you can name. Don’t believe me? Just listen.
Rating: Gotta Have It
Do you agree? Disagree? Tweet us @ravedeaf or call Tim out directly @timylittlerobot