There was one Indigenous album of 2014 that stood apart from all the rest—Ana Tijoux's Vengo.
Somehow, indescribably, when we compiled our Best Indigenous Music of 2014, we didn't include one of the most stellar albums of the year.
Ana Tijoux's Vengo was hailed as a nearly perfect record almost from the moment it was released in March 2014. But despite generating huge waves in her Chilean homeland and receiving critical accolades from some North American critics and SXSW attendees, Vengo didn't make the full impact that we thought it should have. Which is why we're putting the album into a category unto itself.
Tijoux is already a legend among her South American fanbase, where she has been called "a Latin American Lauryn Hill" and "Chile's hip-hop heroine". Now she's making serious inroads into the rest of the world's musical consciousness. Having recently won several Latin Grammys, and with endorsements from the likes of Radiohead's Thom Yorke, and a song from her previous solo album, 1977, featured on the hit TV show Breaking Bad, Tijoux is generating much deserved attention for her passionate, provocative and political music.
She first made her mark as part of best-selling Chilean hip-hop group Makiza in the late 90s, but Tijoux is now firmly established as a superstar solo artist, whose latest effort ranks with the greats in any language or genre.
"Vengo is virtually flawless"
Vengo, Tijoux's fourth solo album, offers a relentlessly uncompromising vision and infectious mix of musical influences, intricate lyricism and anticolonial politics.
Inspired by the writings of Eduardo Galeano and Naomi Klein, Vengo rings out with the sounds of Indigenous and Andean influences, connecting her Aymara roots with a wondrous mix of hip-hop, jazz, funk and beautiful live instrumentation arrangements. Tijoux's lyrical dreams of the Empire's fall, the end of patriarchy, the pursuit of global justice, and the love of family inform the album's thematic core. From the pride-filled bounce of title track "Vengo" and the fire of "Somos Sur" (We Are the South), her bombastic collaboration with Palestinian hip-hop artist Shadia Monsour, to acoustic pieces like "Rumbo al Sol" and the almost whispered urgency of "Río Abajo", the album draws strength and force from its hybrid vision of freedom found in "joyful musical rebellion".
For Tijoux, music is a weapon and a way of visioning the world: "a tool to have reflection, conversation and dialogue"—but also a way to "decolonize ourselves in our own music".
Righteous, beautiful, proudly feminist and revolutionary, in the best sense of the word, Vengo is both the most slept-on and the most compelling Indigenous album of 2014.
If you don't know, now you know.
Stream: Ana Tijoux - "Vengo"
STREAM VENGO ON SPOTIFY
Watch Ana Tijoux - "Somos Sur (ft. Shadia Monsour)"