Carmen Xía, andalusian art, tradition and modernity

Carmen Xía brings to life a perfect symbiosis of rap and copla, taking deep inspiration from the Andalusian quejío and that southernmost land. Her musical project provides strong support to hip hop coplero, the name for this new genre that fuses flamenco and traditional Andalusian folklore with electronic sounds that are characteristic of the artistic and cultural genre of hip hop. It is a project that is committed to risk, social advocacy and political critique.

Her path into the world of music began with a feminist rap band that she started with a group of friends. It was not, however, until the release of her first song Orguyoça (produced by Suzio Tarik) that she began to make a name for herself. Released on December 4th, 2020, this first single shows Carmen championing an art that is born out of both rage and tenderness, and serves as a tool against the establishment

Orguyoça is a complete mission statement, acknowledging the music and feelings of so many female Andalusian artists, their strength, sorrows and endeavours. “Forever grateful to the foremothers, who made art and pain into the memory of my land…. Orguyoça (proud) of them all”.

Her second release is La Juani, alongside her first music video –a satirical critique on the difficult situation of many Andalusian people embodied in the person of Juani, a woman like many others in Andalusia who find themselves at risk of social exclusion because of job uncertainty, and also on the effects of touristification on working-class neighbourhoods. “Things are really scarce, things are really crappy, but that doesn’t allow you, to take advantage of me”.

Released in March 2022, the first album by this woman from Cádiz is an artistic homage to her Andalusian roots and to the memory of such seemingly forgotten history. The album includes eleven tracks produced by Suzio Tarik and Enzoo Leep, and a collaboration with Bittah from Tribade. Song composition showcases “a crossroads of rap and copla that reveals such open wounds, such quejío that women more than anybody have been carrying for generations”.

The album begins with a speech by Lola Flores, a short diatribe typical of la Faraona that serves as an example of the strength and aesthetics of traditional copla singers. This is followed by compositions and lyrics not lacking in personal struggle, something usual in Carmen Xía who takes pains to portray in her music the wounds of women like La Paquera de Jerez, Gata Cattana or Lauryn Hill.

There are messages of significant political content in her lyrics, because she deals with subject matter of great social relevance from a critical point of view. They range from an anti-fascist attitude that argues for unity among female colleagues and good relationships between neighbourhoods, “support your local maris”, to the defence of Andalusian identify, pushing the south into the foreground and rejecting stereotypes. Her lyrics tackle topics of great significance for several social groups and collectives (LGBTI, women, classism, etc.) while never forgetting her own personal experience, which is showcased in productions that deal with her own career as a woman in the music industry. 

Carmen Xía supports the idea that she just belongs to those collectives of people that care about their own land and endeavour to eradicate the persistent discourse about a non-existing Andalusia composed of made-up stereotypes. To do so, she not only makes use of her distinctive approach to the subject matter of her songs but also employs the Standard for Andalusian spelling (Êttandâ pal andalûh, EPA) in order to dignify her way of speaking. Though some may consider this something of a novelty, writing in Andalusian is not really new because a number of artists have done it before her, from the playwright brothers Álvarez Quintero to writer Juan Ramón Jiménez, who was awarded a Nobel Prize. There have been a significant number of musical projects in recent years that have taken on the spelling characteristics of EPA. Outstanding examples of this trend are FRAC, Cadipsonians, Trandalûh and Califato 3/4, all of whom have contributed to increase the prestige of writing in Andalusian.

The work of this artist from Cádiz highlights the need to know the past, what we are, what we were and that which we want to be. An introspective examination of that with which we identify, so that we can use it as a starting point for a reappraisal of tradition, always in a respectful appreciative and manner. Carmen Xía has all necessary elements to make her output into a tool of knowledge and thought that avoids any kind of post-truth ideas and narratives.

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