Friday, October 30, 2009

SEO2 and CENZI, A.K.A. The Other Makiza dudes

I've talked long and extensively about my favorite former Makiza member, Anita Tijoux, who happens to also be one of my favorite human beings. Now it's the turn of the other former members of the mythical Chilean hip-hop group who coincidentally also released their respective second solo albums in 2009.
Right after the first departure of Anita in 2000, DJ Squat relocated to France and the remaining two members, Seo2 and Cenzi, joined forces to come out of the crisis as a duo, Némesis. As such, they delivered two albums (one on a major, one independently) where Seo2 did most of the rapping first and Cenzi (who in Makiza was only doing beats) started by doing the production and ended up sharing the microphone as well. Then it was Cenzi's turn to leave Chile and move back to Canada and since then the two friends have been working in their solo careers.
Seo2 was the male voice of Makiza, tough job. Being a really good MC, in his own right, he never received as much attention as his female partner. That must have been hard on him, but hey, that's a basic rule in the market, you put a pretty girl in your band and suddenly she's getting all the media buzz, she's in the center of all the pictures, she's getting all the fan mail, etc, etc. In hip-hop, where talented female MC's are an unfortunate rare species, this phenomenon happens more than anywhere else. I'm not saying that Mademoiselle Tijoux didn't deserve the extra attention, because of course, she was (is) an exceptionally talented artist, but Makiza was four people ("four heads" as they referred to themselves) and the concept was never "Anita and her band".
(As a sort of mea culpa I should say that since I was part of the media writing about them, I'm in part to blame for focusing on too much on Anita, rather than the rest.)
Anyway, after the failed reunion of Makiza in 2005 (where Cenzi didn't participate), Anita and Seo2 went separate ways and haven't talked to each other ever since. Something lamentable because I like them both and I wish they could be cool and because I don't really like feuds.
Seo2 recently released his second album as a solo MC, called Relativo & Absoluto (available on Itunes and and I personally think it's his best work to date. His flow is impeccable over great boom-bap beats provided by the amazings DJ Raff and Bitman, among others. Similarly to Anita's 1977, which is also her second solo album, Relativo & Absoluto is in part an autobiographical opus and sonically focuses on raw purist rap that will please hardcore b-boys a lot more than mainstream listeners.
Cenzi, who also contributes with some beat production for Relativo & Absolute, recently released his second solo album as an MC (he has plenty of other releases as a producer) where, not surprisingly at all, Seo2 contributes as a guest MC in one track. It's called De Mi Menor a Mi Mayor and it can be downloaded for free (along with many of his previous releases) from his website. Unlike Anita and Seo2 who for their second albums went back to a classic hip-hop sound, Cenzi's latest work gets a little experimental with the inclusion of an acoustic guitar at the center of his production, with some quite interesting results. Now strictly from a DJ point of view, I'll be probably spinning Seo2 tracks way more than Cenzi's.
Back in 2000 I was there backstage halfway through my interview when I witnessed first hand Makiza's break up. Since then I always felt an special emotional tie to this talented group of Chilean artists. I don't really care that they are all far apart from each other nowadays, for me they're still the greatest hip-hop crew of Latin America.

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