Anamaría Merino (b. June 12, 1977) is a French-Chilean MC, more commonly known by her stage name Ana Tijoux or Anita Tijoux. She is the daughter of two Chilean parents, and was born in Lille, France while they were living in political exile during Augusto Pinochet's dictatorship of Chile. Once democracy was restored in Chile, Tijoux moved there as a teenager and became involved in Santiago's emerging hip hop scene. The Spanish language rapper's career has spanned over 10 years, starting as the female MC of the socially-conscious Latin American group, Makiza. From 2001 to 2004, she decided to leave the group and take a break from music. Crossing over to Latin mainstream pop in 2006, she collaborated with Mexican singer Julieta Venegas for the radio hit “Eres para mi.” That same year, Tijoux officially left Makiza to launch her solo career. Her solo debut, Kaos, was released in September 2007 on the independent label Oveja Negra. Two years later she released the album 1977 on Nacional Records, which became the second-ever Grammy-nominated album by a Chilean artist. It featured the hit song “1977,” which was featured on the FIFA 11 soundtrack and in an episode of Breaking Bad. Her latest album, La Bala, was released on Nacional Records in January 2012 and features a collaboration with the Oscar-winning Uruguayan composer Jorge Drexler (The Motorcycle Diaries).
If you were a politically-inclined songwriter back in 70s-era Chile, chances are you wouldn't live long enough to have your music heard across the globe. Under the dictatorship of Augusto Pinochet, protest music-makers like Victor Jara, along with thousands of others, were routinely tortured and murdered. Although democracy has since been restored in Chile, the tradition of protesting through music lives on with artists like Ana Tijoux—and thankfully there's no death sentence for doing so. Instead, her politically-charged rap music has earned her accolades across the globe. Her album 1977, which included the breakout hit single of the same name, was even nominated for a Grammy. Though she's now based out of Santiago, Chile, Tijoux was born in Lille, France to Chilean parents who were exiled there during Pinochet's regime. Unlike many mainstream American rappers, whose lyrics tend to be very egocentric, Tijoux uses her skillful flow to deliver powerful social and political statements (in Spanish). Following the success of 1977 is the release of 2012's La Bala, which translates as “The Bullet.” Before releasing the album, Tijoux released the video for its first single, “Shock.” It's inspired by the 2011 Chilean protests, when students began to rise up and demand the end of a for-profit education system. The video features students holding up signs that show their support for the cause, with Tijoux appearing alongside them. She's the voice of their cause, her quick-fire flow and militaristic instrumentation serving as their secret weapon as she shoots off lines like: “Al son de un solo coro (to the sound of a single chorus)/marcharemos con el tono (we will march with the tone)/con la convicción que !!BASTA DE ROBO¡¡ (with the conviction that THE THIEVING STOPS!!)” Even without understanding Spanish, you can hear the determination reflected in her vocal intonation. While her music is rooted in hip hop, La Bala shows off Tijoux's ability to look beyond traditional hip hop styles. Just like she unites with Chilean students in “Shock,” she brings together elements of electronic, funk, and jazz throughout the album. Closing track “Volver” has a downtempo electronic feel, with lounge-y instrumentation like flutes, strings, and light horns. Somehow Tijoux manages to sound just as captivating singing with ethereally breathy vocals as she does spitting out fierce rhymes. It might be the closing track on the album, but given the fact that it translates as “to return,” it's as if Ana Tijoux is hinting that her unique, political twist on hip hop is just getting started.