Anamaria Merino’s political activist parents fled the Pinochet regime in Chile, and she grew up a refugee in France. There, she told MTV Iggy in an interview, she discovered hip hop, and the rest was history. When she came back to Chile, she became Ana Tijoux: an MC who is ushering in a golden age of Spanish-language hip hop. Introduced to audiences by her guest appearances on Julieta Venegas’ hit “Eres Para Mi,” her first single, “Despabilate,” showcased Ana’s low-pitched, husky voice over electronic beats and put her on the international radar screen.
Her 2010 Grammy-nominated second album 1977, titled after the year of her birth, is a throwback to the 1990s – old-school beats, jazz samples, folk touches. She brings back politically-minded rapping (“Sube”), hip-hop existentialism (“Crisis de un MC”), and heartbreak (“Mar Adentro”). Most songs are autobiographical, and even her f**ck-the-haters-I’m-the-best song (“1977”) is, well, modest. The album is not so much outside the rap scene’s current baroque period as a slap in the face. Goodbye ballerinas, auto-tune, shutter shades, swag. Ana’s here, and with her flow so tight, she mesmerizes with just her whispers.