Editor’s note: This article was originally published March 13, 2014
One of Latin America’s best MCs, Ana Tijoux blends a laid-back flow with powerful rhymes. The Chilean-French artist made her American debut at South by Southwest 2010 and on Thursday, Tijoux returned to SXSW as a featured speaker during a special SXAméricas panel presented by NPR’s Alt.Latino.
Tijoux discussed her new album “Vengo,” as well as how motherhood has influenced her music.
“Vengo,” which is available for streaming on npr.org, has a jazzier feel than previous albums. “I’m a frustrated jazzist,” she explains. But the softer tone of some songs in the album reflects Tijoux’s personal life at the time. A year ago Thursday she gave birth to her second child, a daughter named Emilia.
It’s amazing how much creativity can emerge from sleep deprivation, she says. “I was changing diapers and tired,” she says. “But at the same time I was three times more sensitive to everything. Being a mother definitely affects how you see the world.”
Tijoux’s soulful voice comes through in her rhymes, but in “Vengo” fans get to hear a lot more singing.“I think the music was saying you’ve got to rhyme and sing,” she says. She prefers a go-with-the-flow approach to her music and describes her process as a “sometimes painful process full of chaos,” but she wouldn’t have it any other way. “There’s no formula for creativity,” she says.
Tijoux fell in love with hip-hop after listening to American rap, French rap and Latin American rap. She mentions artists like “The Roots” and “A Tribe called Quest” among some of her early influences.
Tijoux’s socially conscious music has reflected on topics such as Latin American politics to human connections with water and the Earth. “As artists, we can carry the weight of the world and the sadness of the world,” she says. Latin American hip-hop has a lot of emotion, she says, and perhaps it’s because it’s rooted in identity. Understanding who you are, Tijoux says, means knowing where you are headed.
Catch Tijoux at SXSW at 11 p.m. Thursday and 9 p.m. Friday at Buffalo Billiards.