Ana Tijoux and Lila Downs’ First Collab Is “Tinta Roja,” a Roaring Ballad

Lead Photo: Courtesy of Lila Downs
Courtesy of Lila Downs
Read more

How much vocal power can a single song pack in? A lot, “Tinta Roja” shows us. The baroque ballad is a haunting collaboration between the brassy French-Chilean rapper and singer Ana Tijoux and Mexican-American powerhouse Lila Downs — two proud defenders of women’s rights who belong on a thundering track together.

“Tinta Roja” is off of Tijoux’s upcoming EP Roja y Negro, which will be out later this year. Tijoux explains that she always wanted to collaborate with Downs, whom she saw as somewhat of a kindred spirit.

“I casually met Lila a few years ago, but have been a fan for a long time, not only of her body of work, but also what she represents as an artist and as a woman challenging stereotypes,” Tijoux sad. “It was a dream to be able to collaborate for my new project, where I’m exploring many of the same themes that she has been working on for years, but with music that is totally different than what my fans might be used to.”

The respect seems to be mutual. Downs shared that she’s always been attracted to Tijoux’s own messages of empowerment and honoring Latin American history.

“Ana Tijoux is a poet whose verse speaks truths: women’s strength, patriarchy, painful introspection. Her rhythm is that beautiful way our indigenous sisters speak of the issues we face today in Latin America,” she said.

On “Tinta Roja,” their voices crisscross over intricate guitar and roaring horn arrangements. Together, both artists draw out poetic lyrics detailing broken memories and days gone by as they describe feeling like lost ghosts drifting in the present.

“From my earliest years, I took inspiration for my lyrics from singer-songwriters such as Chico Buarque, Violeta Parra, Victor Jara, Mercedes Sosa — revolutionaries with an acoustic guitar, who to me are not so different from my hip-hop heroes. Lila, to me, has followed in that line of greats, and I had always thought about finding some way to work with her,” she said.

The artists are performing together in New York at the Playstation Theater on Feb. 23 — check out more details here.