Though French-Chilean Rapper Ana Tijoux has been making music since the late 1990s, she is best known for 2010's 1977 and 2012's La Bala. Vengo is her third release for Nacional. Neither as melancholy as 1977 nor as outwardly angry as La Bala, it is far more ambitious musically and lyrically. Over 17 gorgeously constructed tracks, this music moves seamlessly between hip-hop, old-school cumbia, Andean mountain folk, digital dub, brassy funk, soul, pop, rhumba, and jazz, and all are at Tijoux's command, in any combination she desires. There are no samples; the full band and voices were cut on the studio floor. Overdubs were added later. There is far more singing here than we're used to from Tijoux and that's a great thing. The title track is introduced by soft Andean flutes; their poignancy is a far cry from those found on new age or world fusion records. They are met by a skittering drum kit, loops, brass, and Tijoux's strident boom-bap rapping about the dignity and pride of her Mapuche family. "Antipatriarca" is a feminist anthem driven by nylon-string guitars, hand percussion, and flutes, with an expansive brass section -- including French horns and flgelhorns -- adding dimension and color. In addition to rapping, her lovely contralto joins the mix, wedding jazzy soul, mountain folk, and flamenco. Bluesy funk led by rolling snares and an electric guitar vamp underscore an indigenous male chant in "Rio Abajo." When she begins to MC, flutes and strummed nylon-string guitars join hand drums under her rap about water as the metaphor and source for all life and love. She joins the chorus of men and women singing at the end. Though introduced by an acoustic guitar, "Los Peces Gordos No Pueden Volar" melds horn-driven funky soul to bumping hip-hop. She croons as well as raps about the lessons of motherhood and offers advice to her daughters as an Indian sub-melody unfolds under the R&B. There are some excellent guest spots here as well: longtime colleague and producer Hordatoj helps out on the fierce, uplifting "Somos Todos Erroristas," that underlines the role mistakes play in making us human, and as necessary for both transforming and transcending difficulties that hold us back. Juanito Ayala delivers a soulful affirmative response to Tijoux's rap on the Andean funk in "Creo en Ti." While Tijoux and DJ Niel affirm one another's exhortations on "Delta," Indian melody, rhumba, flamenco, hip-hop, and jazz wind around and through one another to create an intoxicating brew. The set closes with "Mi Verdad," a deep, grooving, jazz-drenched cumbia with dubwise effects coloring the horns and Tijoux's emotive singing about experiential truth. Vengo combines all of Tijoux's strengths and a nearly inexhaustible musical vocabulary. It is the sophisticated, mature work of an artist in full control of her environment who illustrates her vision flawlessly. This album ups the ante for Latin hip-hop and pop. ~ Thom Jurek
Rolling Stone - 3.5 stars out of 5 -- "The attack this time is harder, but no less thoughtful or poetic."