Anita Tijoux

1977

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A seasoned performer who divides her time between France and Chile, Ana Tijoux makes her U.S. solo debut with this disc, named for the year of her birth. On the cover, she wears simple jeans and a flannel shirt and doesn't meet the camera's eye; the introspective seriousness of her approach is made clear before a note is heard. Though she came to broad public attention within the Latin pop market by delivering a guest verse on Julieta Venegas' "Eres Para Mi" in 2006, Tijoux isn't an extroverted MC like Mala Rodriguez, or U.S. female rappers like Nicki Minaj or even Missy Elliott. Instead, she rattles off her lines in a near monotone, hitting the beats with calm and precision. The music behind her is all echoed samples of horns and strings, plus the occasional bit of scratching -- mostly funky and occasionally lurching, these are jazzy beats firmly rooted in the tradition of DJ Premier, DJ Cam, DJ Krush, and other '90s classicists. Ana Tijoux has no interest in getting the club jumping. Indeed, track titles like "Humanidad," "Avaricia," and "Crisis de un MC" indicate that, like New York rappers of a prior generation like Jeru the Damaja, she'd rather get listeners thinking than soundtrack their parties. The music on "Humanidad" consists of little but strings and handclaps, with electronic noise around the edges; were it not for the rhythmic impetus of her delivery, it could be a spoken word track. Ana Tijoux is clearly interested in hip-hop as a vehicle for communication, an approach that's almost anachronistic, but very welcome.

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