Semi-New Song Sunday: Ana Tijoux

French-Chilean rapper and singer Ana Tijoux makes politically-conscious music (even for those of us who can’t understand it)

This week’s new-to-me music comes courtesy of Neko Case’s Instagram account. Ana Tijoux is a Chilean singer and rapper, born in France, where her parents had fled after Pinochet’s coup d’etat.

Even though my Spanish is limited to counting and identifying pencils, I could tell that “Antipatriarca” is a political song. (I used context clues). What the video makes clear is that the idea of separating art from politics isn’t “conservative;” it’s absurd. It’s only because people have spent decades encouraging an insulated and uninformed middle class — which, to be clear, absolutely includes me — that we’ve even got the notion that political decisions don’t have much of an impact on “normal people.”

And this is a great example of the old idea that music is universal. I know even less about Chilean politics than I do about Spanish vocabulary, but pairing the images and the messages with music means that more people like me are going to be seeing it and hearing it for the first time.

The most recent performance by Tijoux that I can find is this video from KEXP, in which she performs 5 songs. It’s kind of a tough sell for me to listen to 20 minutes’ worth of songs in a language I don’t understand, but this is really a showcase for what a fantastic singer she is, as well as being a talented rapper. And she not only seems to effortlessly slide between singing and rapping, but she combines the two at key moments. It’s completely captivating.

My favorite track so far is the title track from her album 1977. Based on the title and the video, I’m guessing it’s her life story. The focus is on her rapping, but I love the samples just as much. It’s not quite like anything I’ve ever heard before.

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