Ana Tijoux - La Bala

La Bala, Ana Tijoux
Nacional Records, Chile
Rating: 74
by Carlos Reyes

I didn’t care much about the star-making appearance of “1977” on last year’s infamous summer playlist by Thom Yorke, but when that song popped up on an episode of what’s arguably the best TV series of all time (Breaking Bad), I confess I got territorial at the grace of music supervisor Thomas Golubic. Which comes to show that songs do evolve in the course of different narratives. The cosmopolitanism of Ana Tijoux is endearing and truthful, inclusive of varied infrastructures, as well as deep personal venture. Tijoux’s life story knows about exile and landing, about expression and repression - qualities that have found meaning and purpose in her folk-tinged urban artillery that’s, indeed, addressing global unrest in rhyme.

“Soy el ultimo eslabón de la pirámide,” sighs the French-Chilean musician in the album's defining number, "Desclasificado." Ana Tijoux is a lot of things, amongst them: an exceptional rapper, a troubadour (with a killer front-to-back flow), and an immaculate listener. On her third album, La Bala, Tijoux has bolded the melodic response of her delivery, arriving at what’s easily her best record to date. When in the album’s single “Shock” Tijoux sings about the rotting of a golden throne, her mind shields in a collective, marching conviction - the rhymes trail her mind through successive hard punches in the pursuit of corrupt decomposition. This is Tijoux at her best, in full harmony with the times and owning the medium through a commendable dexterity.

Although a career-high, La Bala still suffers from what ultimately prevented its predecessors from becoming great records. It’s missing the beats. She has yet to find the producers that will provide the sonic grassland in which a big portion of her mantra will ultimately flourish. Nothing goes wrong when she’s rapping/singing, but production-wise, her songs are bruised by run-of-the-mill orchestrations that would only work in a pre-industrialized environment. Yes, it’s not too hard to make a conversation between La Bala and an agricultural economy, but the multi-dimensions of her topics and rhymes speak less about a revivalist and more of an artist who is looking forward. But, while that production plot hole is certainly there, Tijoux’s arsenal keeps the flow running with her outspoken, powerful performance. La Bala is Ana Tijoux's shot at breaking bad, and she proves to be more than capable of wearing the ribbon of an outlaw hero.

9 comments :

Jean-Stephane Beriot said...

Although this is a sort of ode to the 90s hip hop (which has plenty of jazz in it), I do agree La Bala, just like 1977, is missing the beats. Not to say that every hip hop record needs to sound a certain way, but when you have an album full of social & textual dimensions, the music should hint that way.

Other than that, I'd say "Shock" is Tijoux's best number yet, and the album as a whole is quite pleasing. It gets a bit lost on its second half, but it's solid.

zenen said...

interesante lo que dices sobre la falta de beats, pero no creo que ni las letras ni el rappeo la salven en este disco. aqui, humildemente, comparto mi review:
http://melomaniaco.com/index.php?option=com_content&view=article&id=643:resena-la-bala&catid=36:resenas

saludos!

Juan Data said...

LOL you totally missed the point dude. Beats are nothing less of pristine on this album.

karenT said...

When it comes to text, this album delivers big time. But the music itself just lacks the punch. In a way, it's hip hop for people that don't really listen to hip hop.

This record has some really great theme music on it, and I'm the least enthusiastic person when it comes to theme music. But Tijoux has the charm and talent to do this kind of thing. But yes, it does feel like it was steamed in some kind of hard-drive malaware. She needs to go and find Almonte or Visitante and get these songs 'cured.'

Chris S said...

Not all Rap is Hip-Hop, nor does Rap necessitate breakbeats. It just needs a groove. If her lyrics and rhythm come to the fore, and the music has a groove and supports the vocals, isn't that enough?

Andrew Casillas said...

The words aren't fervent enough to qualify as poetry, the instrumentation isn't compelling enough to positively augment the lyrics.

I mean, she could be the Latina Gil Scott-Heron and no one would complain.

Anonymous said...

74! that's an overstatement. really. and i'm a fan of hers!

Anonymous said...

@Chris S At Club Fonograma IT'S NEVER ENOUGH. I know as a two-time reviewed artist hahhaa. But honestly, that's why we love these guys.

Andrew Casillas said...

Carlos got off way too easy for this review compared to what happened LAST TIME ;)

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