We feature new music from female-fronted bands every Monday! This week, say hello to Chhoti Maa.
Chhoti Maa is a powerful hip-hop artist with bruja swag. Her newest album Agua Corre brings to light mestiza roots and undocumented identities, turning up the volume on issues concerning the lives of activists and voices of la gente.
Originally from Guanajuato, Mexico, Chhoti now works as a community organizer and teacher in California, where she teaches poetry, creative writing, music production. While Chhoti’s voice is beautiful and soothing, her lyrics hit hard. The track titled “Déjame Entrar” is a powerful narrative on movement and space—she explores how people who are labeled as undocumented are unable to move around the world freely, unlike their ancestors. She sings ever so poetically: “Dejame entar, dejame andar, dejame migrar, andar in paz” (“Let me enter, let me walk, let me migrate, walk in peace”). As many of us know, migration is often a dangerous journey. Due to economic and social policies that cause displacement and insecurity (like NAFTA), families become separated and are forced to move just to stay alive. “Dejame Entar” elegantly emphasizes the humanistic aspect of an undocumented identity. During the track, there is a testimonial segment of a young man describing his personal account on what its like to be a migrant and the emotional toll it takes on an individual. As a listener, it’s difficult not to tear up when listening to these heartfelt words.
Agua Corre is an album of many layers that includes history and the decolonization of our bodies. Chhoti’s song “Violence of the Seed” speaks to the different raizes that many latinos posses in their histories, background, and sangre. More importantly, it explains the outcome the mestiza identity as descended from indigenous, African, and European colonized people. The album is heavy in African drums, indigenous instruments, and a mourning chorus—a perfect combination in consideration of the subjects at hand. For example, the song “Mala Fama” features Chhoti’s sister and cousin having a debate about what it means to be a female activist in Mexico. There are assassinations and violence in various part of Mexico, but women in particular are targeted—femicide is a tactic used against to silence progress and positive change. But Chhoti Maa remains active and fights against such fear tactics through her music.