Sound Check: Q & A with Chilean Rapper Anita Tijoux

Although Chilean rapper Anita Tijoux has been rhyming since the mid-90’s, stateside we’ve been missing out. Luckily for us, she’s finally making her U.S. debut! Her upcoming album, 1977 (out April 27; Nacional Records), named for the year of her birth, should bring listeners up to speed on her life story (she was born in France during Pinochet’s dictatorship) and her old-school lyrical style. I had a chance to catch up with Tijoux while she was in town for some shows in NYC and here’s what she had to say:

Which musicians have influenced you the most?

I’ve been influenced by a lot of musicians and not all of them rap. I’ve always been a big follower of Chico Buarque because of his singing, as well as the quality of his compositions and the construction of his songs. He was one of the first musicians that had an impact on me. I also admire Fela Kuti, Toto La Momposina, Rachid Taha, J Dilla, Bahamadia, Riuchi Sakamoto and many more. That list would be really extensive!

Did you base your rapping style on any rapper in particular?

Yes, to be honest [hip-hop artist] Bahamadia motivated me to do what I do with her first album, Kollage, [realeased in 1996]. She was inspiring in the way that she cut up words and her vocal quality.

You grew up in France—how did that affect your music?

In every way. France is a big melting pot. You don’t only hear French music, like Serge Gainsbourg for example, you also get Arabic music like Rai, which is really strong over there.

Why hadn’t you performed in the U.S. sooner?

Because I hadn’t been invited!

I loved your collabo with Julieta Venegas on the song “Eres Para Mí”—any other collaborations on the horizon?

I’ve been in talks with people that I met on this tour but I’d rather not say until we have the songs worked out.

What was your objective with the album 1977?

I wanted to perform a lot with my band; travel throughout Latin America and meet other MC’s from neighboring countries; and show another side of Chile, which is hip-hop in this case; and hopefully, get people interested in the work of other Chileans.

If you're in NYC, you can catch Anita Tijoux at the Tres Leyendas show tonight at 7PM at Webster Hall where she'll be performing alongside legendary wordsmiths Siete Nueve, Bocafloja and El Meswy. Go to myspace.com/anitatijoux for upcoming tour dates.

Check out Anita Tijoux’s video for the title song off the album 1977:

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About this author

Grace Bastidas, Deputy Editor

Born and raised in Queens, New York, where more languages are spoken than anywhere in the world, Grace Bastidas is Latina’s Deputy Editor. She oversees lifestyle content, including topics as diverse as career, health and relationships, and occasionally writes about her own experiences in The Good Life section. As a writer, Grace’s work has appeared in The New York TimesNew York magazine, The Wall Street Journal and Travel + Leisure. She is fluent in Spanish.

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