Ana Tijoux – 1977 (Oveja Negra: 2009)
3.5 out of 5 Potholes
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Anita Tijoux, or Ana as she will be called on her US release, hits American record stores with two strikes against her. For starters, she’s an international emcee who does not rap in English. Second of all, she is a female emcee in a male-dominated genre. Therefore it is up to the listeners to get past whatever inhibitions they may have about international and/or female emcees and embrace Ana Tijoux for her music, because it’s really quite good.
The French-born Chilean spends the majority of the time rapping in Spanish on her latest album, 1977. I’ll be the first to admit that I am not entirely fluent in Spanish (though I try), and I cannot quite pick up on every single lyric. However, from what I could understand, Ana has no qualms about addressing socially pertinent topics, which is fitting for her fiery delivery.
The title track has Ana rapping about how things have changed in her world since her early days. She keeps a sharp eye on her surroundings and is quick to criticize the flaws in the day-to-day activities of society and government. “Sube” touches upon the forces that hold people down, as Ana vows to overcome them. And as admirable as her inspirational content is, her flow is especially impressive. She has a precise delivery and self-assured demeanor that translate into supreme confidence on the record – a must for any emcee.
The production suits Ana nicely as well. Combining steady boom-bap drum sequences with organic vinyl scratches and a flare of Latin American influence, the production varies between spicy and soulful, all with an overarching affinity for old-school hip-hop. Although there are a few tracks that muddle the pace of the album, 1977 wisely places its strongest tracks in the middle, serving as the album’s centerpiece(s). Luscious horns and spacious keys fill the background on “Problema de 2”, a track that seems to be somewhat of a lover’s lament. This is followed by the equally fluid “Mar Adentro”, which lifts its title (meaning “Sea Inside”) from the Javier Bardem movie of the same name.
Throughout 1977 Ana reaffirms that she can flip her style to match a variety of tracks, vary her content accordingly, and still sound great while doing it. And beyond the language and gender barrier, Ana proves that she can succeed in the hip-hop world simply because she understands true hip-hop. Heads rejoice.