One of the most respected MCs in any language, Ana Tijoux has constantly set the standard for not only female rappers or Rap en Español, but for the entire hip-hop genre itself, breaking all barriers and connecting with audiences from different generations, backgrounds, and voices.
Born in France—where her parents were exiled during the military dictatorship in their native Chile—Tijoux became a household name in Chile with her first band, the critically-acclaimed late 90's rap trio Makiza, as well as voicing the main character in the popular animated series Los Pulentos.
After going solo in 2006, she quickly gained fame throughout Latin America with a string of hits including the smash “Eres Para Mi” with Julieta Venegas. But the world really began to take notice when she dropped 1977, an album full of classic beats and her signature flow that harkened back to the 90s and the golden age of intellectual hip-hop. International accolades and Grammy nominations quickly amassed, as did praise from mainstream press around the globe, as well as tastemakers like Thom Yorke, and the album ended up at the top of the “Best-of” lists of Amazon, Billboard, and iTunes, amongst others. The album went gold in Italy, and its title track was highlighted in a much-heralded scene in Breaking Bad.
She followed that with the multi-nominated La Bala, a fiercely political album which spoke to the challenges facing Chile at the time, including the large student protest movements and the first right-wing President in over 20 years. Its orchestrated arrangements and hit collaborations with Jorge Drexler and Los Aldeanos raised the bar yet again for rap en español, propelling her into a more intellectual and indie world.
But it was her latest album, 2014's Vengo, that really capped off a 5 year transformation from the Latin underground rap scene to a truly international icon. Her music has evolved from throwback 90s hip-hop beats to embracing a more pan-Latin and world sound, infusing folk instruments into a scene that had all but forgotten where it came from--the ghettos around the world. Her message grew beyond the barrios of Santiago to embrace the common problems of humanity, from Juarez to Ramallah and everywhere in-between. Touching on immigrant and poverty issues, motherhood, capitalism's growing threats, indigenous pride, and gender equality, the album was a milestone in both its music and its message. Rolling Stone cited her SXSW performance as one of the fest's best, while the New York Times called her “South America’s answer to Lauryn Hill." She won a Latin Grammy for her second collaboration with Jorge Drexler, her album was named Best Latin Album of the Year by NPR, and she performed at the 2015 Grammy Awards in Los Angeles.
In Chile she has become a true superstar, sweeping the 2015 Pulsar awards (their Grammys), including Artist of the Year, Album of the Year, and Song of the Year. Her biting lyrics have resonated with fans across the globe, and as her activism has grown, she is now just as likely to be seen on Al-Jazeera or Democracy Now as she is at Lollapalooza or Roskilde. With the intention of re-connecting with her roots and fighting for a continent, she somehow became a global spokesperson not only for the next generation of Latinos, but for forgotten peoples all around the globe.