Hip-hop and Social Justice
I first heard French-Chilean hip hop artist Ana / Anita Tijoux rapping on Julieta Venegas‘ 2007 #1 song “Eres Para Mí” (You are for Me) when she first broke into the world of latin pop after ten years as the female MC of the Chilean hip-hop group Makiza.
Tijoux was born in France in 1977 to Chilean parents who fled the repressive dictatorship of Augusto Pinochet. Her songs reflect her inner identity struggles as well as the struggles of the Chilean people and show what can be learned from her country’s complicated history. Ana Tijoux inspires listeners to fight for social justice and equality in Chile, in Latin America and around the world with her powerful lyrics and voice.
From the Newsweek’s article “Chile’s Hip-Hop Heroine Goes Deep”:
As massive student protests and violent clashes with police roiled Chile in 2012, Tijoux dropped her next album, La Bala (“The Bullet”)…La Bala is scathing political criticism steeped in economic collapse, the Occupy movement, the indignados (“the outraged”) of Spain and mass protests in Greece. She told MTV at the time that the furious march song “Shock” came out of reading Naomi Klein’s The Shock Doctrine, a book that used Chile under Pinochet as an example of the exploitative effects of economic “shock therapy.”
“Chile has been a laboratory for neoliberalism and how everything has been privatized,” Tijoux says. “I was seeing how those students and the new generation were having a social waking up. You can’t expect that people don’t react.”
For an in-depth translation of the song “Shock” please see Songlations’ translation which includes cultural and historical notes that can help contextualize the song.
Sacar la voz
Here are some of the lyrics from my favourite song from La Bala called “Sacar la voz” (Speak Out) featuring Uruguayan composer and singer Jorge Drexler. It’s a catchy and inspiring song about letting go of fear and speaking out.
Liberarse de todo el pudor tomar de las riendas no rendirse al opresor
Caminar erguido sin temor respirar y sacar la voz
Free ourselves from shame take the reins don’t give in to the oppressor
Walk upright without fear breathe and let your voice out
Tengo el amor olvidado cansado agotado, agotado al piso cayeron todos los fragmentos que estaban quebrados
el mirar encorvado el puño cerrado no tengo nada pero nada suma en este charco
I have forgotten about love, tired, exhausted, exhausted all the broken pieces fell to the floor
the hunched look the closed fist, I’ve got nothing but nothing adds up in this puddle
Mandíbula marcada palabra preparada cada letra filada está en la cresta de la oleada
sin pena ni gloria escribir esta historia el tema no es caer levantarse es la victoria
Accentuated jaw, prepared words each sharpened letter is on the crest of the wave
without shame or glory writing this story falling down isn’t the point rising up is the victory
Venir de vuelta abrir la puerta está resuelta estar alerta
sacar la voz que estaba muerta y hacerla orquesta
caminar seguro libre sin temor respirar y sacar la voz
Come back open the door determined to be on guard
let out the voice that was once dead and make it an orchestra
walk safely and free without fear breathe and let your voice out
sin miedo, tu y yo
descolonicemos lo que nos enseñaron
without fear, you and I
decolonize what we were taught
This lyric is from the first single and title track from Tijoux’s new album Vengo (I Come) that was released just a few days ago. Newsweek described the album as “brimming with indigenous pride and powerful explorations of her own identity, as a Chilean, a woman, an artist and a mother” I’m excited to listen to the whole album and I’m sure that I will both enjoy it and learn from it.