Juana gives us a Latin/Middle Eastern team-up from two regional heroes…
Sabina Tang: I’m second-guessing Tijoux’s album for erring on the side of socially conscious 90s sonics (“Lauren-meets-Manu” would be facile but not wrong), and I’ve wished Mansour would team up with a truly stellar beatmaker for as long as I’ve been mad at missing her POP Montreal gig (hint: years). But this track is a near-brush with apotheosis; this track moves feet. I want to hear it in A Tribe Called Red’s DJ set. I want to hear it in Starbucks — perhaps if Nacional could sneak it onto their next cafe compilation. The artists’ politics are inextricable and essential, but so much the better if protest sounds joyful rather than dour.
Brad Shoup: Hey, it bangs as hard as the second Run the Jewels LP, and no one has to issue warnings to fuckbois. Mansour and Tijoux erect fortifications around the empire of Latin America, the Middle East and Africa. Then they launch shells. “Somos Sur” gallops and snaps at intervals; it drips with an irresistible righteousness, and the dudes are here for echo.
Madeleine Lee: It’s admittedly hard to extricate my admiration of the song’s politics from my admiration for the song itself, but it’s the hypnotic rhythms and deft switching between them that hook me in.
Alfred Soto: Its political overtones unmistakeable, it doesn’t strand them either: there are enough funny noises, horns, bangs, and things that go bump in the day and night to give M.I.A. and the Bomb Squad headaches. Here’s hoping they keep stepping on imperialism.
Iain Mew: “Somos Sur” starts off with a compelling swagger and then somehow turns up and up. Shadia Mansour’s snarling, furious turn seems like it must be the highlight, but then Ana Tijoux still has a large part of the world to rouse and unite. After a breather, the shouts and horns come back in with force to match.
Anthony Easton: The bumblebee brass ramping into the vocals might be the most fun I’ve had at the Jukebox all year.
Will Adams: With so much packed in, there’s a risk of overflow. Ana Tijoux and Shadia Mansour are deft performers, sure, but “Somos Sur” has little breathing room, and right when I want some, the beat doubles.
Patrick St. Michel: A forceful stomper that gets really good when the beat hastens. Whatever the speed, it’s forceful.
Edward Okulicz: An angry song to fuck to, or a fucking song to be angry to? My ass doesn’t care.
Juana Giaimo: Ana Tijoux came back in 2014 with her masterpiece — Vengo is a solid statement against the whole system. But the only song where you can feel her anger is “Somos Sur,” where she tackles neocolonialism with clear, strong images and a smooth flow. While the chorus might be a little bit obvious, it works as a political call to the masses to react. But this song wouldn’t be the same without British-Palestinian rapper Shadia Mansour, and with folklore a key element of Vengo, the Arabic music accompanying her fits perfectly. Mansour’s aggressive flow contrasts with that of Tijoux’s, but instead of outshining her, she empowers her. When Tijoux is back, you can feel the hot blood running through her veins, while the instrumentation gets tenser, as if a riot was emerging. “Somos Sur” not only shows the creative explosion that cross-genre mixing can cause, it demonstrates that this isn’t an album only meant for Latin America — Ana Tijoux aims to be heard around the world.