Ana Tijoux has become the darling of Latin American hip-hop and her third album, La Bala looks set to cement her position at the top. Tijoux first grabbed people’s attention through her grammy nominated debut album 1977 for her mix of socially conscious lyrics and jazz-infused beats. She continues in this vein on La Bala, partially inspired by the Chilean student movement which leapt onto the world stage last year.
The album sits between Tijoux’s politically charged tracks and her more soulful, laid-back, hip-hop side. La Bala opens like a call to arms with the first three tracks, “Bala”, “Shock” (which deal openly with the protests, see below) and “Desclaficado”. It then settles down with jazz/soul/funk influenced tracks like “Quizas”, “Volver” and the great “Las Horas”, showing Tijoux’s wider influences. The productions throughout are spot-on and there is a healthy helping of lush orchestral strings adding depth to tracks like “Las Horas”.
On the whole, La Bala walks the line between cutting political rap, clearly inspired by the events in Chile and around the world, and something nearer to jazz-funk-soul (Erykah Badu influenced) than hip-hop, with Tijoux at times, resembling a vocalist more than an MC. Sometimes this just doesn’t work and some tracks, such as “Quizas”, risk slipping into the background but fortunately there are enough top-quality productions to pull the album through. Personally I prefer the socially conscious rapper than the Latin RnB vocalist but each to his own! Still, a couple more positive reviews and this may be the release that really breaks Tijoux outside of her native continent.