Ana Tijoux, "1977"
Chilean rapper Ana Tijoux's latest album, "1977," is titled for the year she was born and it plays like the diary of a young woman. An introspective lyricist with a low voice that makes the listener want to lean in closer, Tijoux has only her thoughts to reveal. But she does so with conviction, whether musing about happiness ("Humanidad"), laying down a heartbreak confessional ("Mar Adentro") or getting autobiographical on the standout title track. Her personal universe encompasses hip-hop existentialism ("Crisis de un MC") and broader social consciousness ("Sube," "Avaricia"). A laid-back mix of hip-hop, jazz, reggae and R&B--which perhaps provides too weak a background for a strong personality--backs Tijoux on the set. A star of Santiago's hip-hop scene, Tijoux is probably best-known for appearing on Julieta Venegas' song "Eres Para Mi." And during a recent U.S. tour, she was tabbed as Latin America's leading female MC. But Tijoux is an artist with the promise to cross borders and genres. --Judy Cantor-Navas