The Talented Rapper, Ana Tijoux

Speaking of hip-hop that raises women up, I give you, Ana Tijoux.

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Her music holds a place in my heart for several reasons. Her lyrics, her subjects, her beats and her unique voice. But also, I’m enamored with how I first came to know about her music. In 2010, I was living and studying in Chile and I was talking to a friend of mine about how it’s a bummer there is a shortage of women rappers out there. And he said,

“Oh you haven’t heard of Ana Tijoux yet have you?”

He also introduced me to her earlier stuff when she was a part of the great hip-hop crew, Makiza. But my favorite song of hers remains this one:

(You might even recognize this song from an episode of Breaking Bad where the track gained a lot of fame.)

Another reason I especially love her music is because of this engaging experience. When I taught in Rwanda, I introduced the students to Ana Tijoux’s song “1977” and they loved it. The French speakers especially caught onto the Spanish and it ignited a further interest in the language and an interest in women as rappers. When exams came around, I posted this picture of Ana Tijoux that says: ‘Ana Tijoux says, ‘Buena Suerte con el resto de sus exámenes!‘” Which means, “Good luck with the rest of your exams!

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And the students posted this paper next to it as though it were Facebook. Haha, so sweet.

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One of Tijoux’s latest songs, titled “Antipatriarca” has especially empowering lyrics:

“…Tu no me vas denigrar, tu no me vas obligar” (You’re not going to denigrate me, you’re not going to force me)

Tu no me vas a silenciar tu no me vas a callar (You’re not going to silence me, you’re not going to shut me up)

No sumisa ni obediente ( I’m neither submissive or obedient)
Mujer fuerte insurgente (insurgent, strong woman)
Independiente y valiente (independent and valiant)
Romper las cadenas de lo indiferente (break the chains of indifference)
No pasiva ni oprimida (Neither passive nor oppressed)
Mujer linda que das vida (beautiful woman who gives life)
Emancipada en autonomía (emancipated and independent)

And this song is just plain badass:

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Some Rap Songs Out There Actually Raise Women Up

It’s not always easy to find songs that are outwardly good to women, but they’re out there and they exist in underground hip-hop. Mainstream music may be all about degrading women to turn a profit, but some underground rap does the opposite: It raises women up, while throwing down some good beats. Check out what The Coup, 2Pac and Zion I & The Grouch have to say in these three songs.

Wear Clean Draws by The Coup (2001)

The Coup not only has a badass female DJ, but they also have a song that is addressed to one of the rappers daughters. The song starts out like this:

“Go on draw them superheroes with the curly hair

You’re my daughter
My love
More than kin to me
This for you and the woman that you finna be
Tell that boy he’s wrong
Girls are strong…

If somebody hits you
Hit ’em back
Then negotiate a peace contract
Life if a challenge and you gotta team up
If you play house pretend that the man clean up
You too busy with the other things you gotta do…”

As the song continues, the DJ, Pam the Funkstress, throws down some scratching.

Keep Ya Head Up by 2Pac (1998)

Of course, this classic song by Tupac:

“I give a holla to my sisters on welfare

2Pac cares, if don’t nobody else care…”

He goes on to rap about how men often leave women to mother a child alone. As the song progresses he gets very literal:

“…And since we all came from a woman

Got our name from a woman and our game from a woman

I wonder why we take from our women

Why we rape our women, do we hate our women

I think it’s time to kill for our women

Time to heal our women, b real to our women…”

Make You Fly by Zion I & The Grouch (2006)

The Chorus, sung by Esthero, starts out like this:

“I am the virgin, I’m the whore
So you won’t push a brother, don’t leave
I am the goddess, I’m the sky
I give you room to make you fly
So why, why
Don’t you recognize me anymore?”

And then Zion I starts rapping:

“An open letter to you sister
Mother, wife, and girlfriend
Hope to make it better before we reach the world’s end
Spin, through centuries of hypocrisy when
Patriarchy subjugated your biology, ya
Divine feminine was always kept hidden
You know I love my mama, called you freak ’cause I was trippin
Take you for granted, man, I’ve often been the culprit
But I’m crypted when I stand like a preacher in this pulpit
Sex symbols like all imitation
A trophy, not a wife but you’re the queen of creation
More than a beauty but it’s harder to see
We told to never cry, hoes down, up G’s, but
You gave birth to me, sacred like the Earth to me
Blessed, never cursin’ me, your love is what these verses be…”

Then Grouch raps, saying:

“Women: you’re the ones who are real strong
And I don’t feel good how we treat you on a hill wrong
Feel lungs breathe (breathe )
She’s the equal I need…”

The sheep that stand up for rappers like Eminem and the actions of Chris Brown will keep funneling the money into misogynist rap. But thankfully, being a good rapper is not equated with being a misogynist. The Coup, Tupac, Zion I and The Grouch show what it means to be a truly good rapper.

(Lyrics found at Genius.com Lyricsmania.com)