Rap Girls #7 Ana Tijoux (Makiza)
“For children of immigrants in France, hip-hop became a sort of land for those of us who felt landless,” Tijoux said during an interview at a pizza parlor near Harvard Square. “We felt displaced, but hip-hop made us feel restored.”
Growing up, Ana Tijoux didn’t know where to call home. She was born in France but culturally, she is the daughter of two Chilean political exiles. Growing up in an alien coutry, disconnected from her motherland due to political unrest, she was conflicted about her identity. It wasn’t until she found hip hop that she found her feet and from there, grew to fame worldwide as the MC of Hip Hop group Makiza during the late 90s.
In 1997 she became widely popular for he participation in the group Los Tetas and their first studio album release. She and Zaturno collaborated with Seo2, Cenzi and DJ Squat to form the group Makiza, whose second studio album “Aerolineas” is complete with scratches and everything from funky to grimey and gloomy beats with Latin influence.
She made a name for herself as an MC who raps about female objectification, anti-colonialism, feminism and other social issues to tracks charged by panpipe flutes, charangos and other Latin folk instruments. A NYT article called her “South America’s answer to Lauryn Hill,” and music critic Jon Pareles described her beat and flow as “calmly assertive, never strident.”
She has said that her life informs her art and she learned her support for underdogs from her mother and beloved Chile. In “Somos Sur” she raps with Palestinian rapper Shadia Mansour about the value of resistance. In “Shock” she criticizes neoliberalism and governmental corruption. In “Antipartiarca” she sings with feminist zeal “I won’t be the one who obeys, because my body belongs to me / I don’t walk behind you, I walk alongside here.”
In a talk at Harvard College Women’s Center, Tijoux says “Hip-hop was a reaction to the status quo. It was a counter-proposal, a movement of anger against the concrete, an answer to the empire. But hip-hop can also talk about love, motherhood, and women’s empowerment. Music has to be honest, I have to talk about what I see and what I feel to be true to myself.”
I have so much respect for Ana Tijoux. She is an inspiration to me, not only as a Woman of Color, but as a human being trying to better this world through her activism and her music.