Sounds Like: A classic hip-hop party – held somewhere in the Andes
For Fans Of: Jean Grae, Manu Chao, Flora Purim
Why You Should Pay Attention: Ana Tijoux is an old-soul in the rap world. The fierce French-Chilean has been honing her serious estilo since the Nineties, first in the popular Chilean hip-hop group Makiza, and later as a global pop star who collaborated with Julieta Venegas, toured with Manu Chao, and got a co-sign from Thom Yorke. The latter accolades were for her single "1977," off her eponymous and well-received 2009 album, which later appeared in Breaking Bad and Broad City. Though she's released two albums since, "1977"'s classic hip-hop style and banda-influenced horn section predicted the turn she's taking on her latest, Vengo, which celebrates her love of old school hip-hop but forgoes samples in favor of traditional South American instruments like Andean charango and Colombian gaita. These underscore lyrics about indigenous culture, feminism, and most importantly – giving birth to her second child. Plus, when was the last time you heard a pan-flute solo played on a rap song? Timbaland samples do not count.
She Says: "I've never had a big connection the way I'd like to with the planet, because I've always lived in big cities and buildings as my way of life. So I had the chance to travel to Ecuador to see a friend of mine who works with indigenous people, and had amazing conversations with him – it was a moment where I understood. I was like, you know what? I should make a song about bringing these ideals back again, almost in a manifesto of the planet being born again, and understanding the history of countries with new eyes, decolonizing everything that you've learned. Reclaiming our identities and relearning everything in our lives."
Hear for Yourself: Title track "Vengo" is a boom-bap banger hinged on Andean pan flute, underscoring Tijoux's determinate raps in Spanish about "decoloniz[ing] what we were taught" and celebrating "our black hair/our high cheekbones." JULIANNE ESCOBEDO SHEPHERD