Adding to the breath of lo-fi triphop, but firmly delivered with her own spin on things, Chilean MC and singer-songwriter AKACATS (aka Catalina Rojas) slips quietly into the stream of hip hop consciousness with the drop of her debut EP, Cupido. The four-song release pairs together a distinct lo-fi sound with elements of jazz, soul and Latin American influences and features collaborations with fellow Chilean artists including Catana, Cidtronyck and MC Bronko Yotte.
Exploring honest and raw thoughts, AKACATS opens up musically and mentally with this EP, showing off not just her style and lyrical prowess but also her flexibility as an artist to take her original ideas and let them grow in the studio. Musing mostly on the process of reflection and growth, with lyrics that focus on life, the choices we make and how we move past certain things along the way, Cupido sets judgements aside to explore the importance of extracting wisdom from one’s mistakes or from tough situations and moving on from them. From love, feelings of struggle to overcoming hard times, AKACATS’ music weaves in humanistic themes to help us realize that these moments make us better and are an opportunity to learn.
Opening with “Lucha,” the EP kicks off like a classic hip hop creation with a record scratch, boom bap snare and a sample sound mixed together before AKACATS comes in to lay down her dense vocals. Joined by Catana and Cidtronyck, the single is smooth and saunters with somnolent steps.
With a few modern accoutrements to polish off the production, “Lucha” leads way to “Lo Siento,” a single that steps more toward the present than past, but is just as potent. With heavier instrumentals, an auto-tuned chorus and more influence from Latin American rap and hip hop, “Lo Siento” takes a bad day and turns it into a learning experience.
“The downs of life, at the end of the day, are the ones that teach us the most and give us the opportunity to wonder about important things,” notes AKACATS.
Picking up the theme of navigating life by trial and error, AKACATS lays down “Geminis,” a soul infused, jazz tinged lo-fi delight. Working with fellow MC Bronco Yotte, the single is slow and deliberate, with a steady backbeat that moves along at a modest pace before making a hard left turn to become a more free form musical breakdown.
“I was inspired by love, healthy and independent love,” notes Rojas. “Even though sometimes it feels like ghosts from the past are chasing us, reminding us of our insecurities and failures, it is possible to grow next to someone new. It is possible to learn, and leave our nightmares behind. Life is about love and self love, give love and let yourself fall in order to learn to rise again.”
Ending with “De Ti,” AKACATS capitalizes on her unique mix of sound with an alternative tinged, stripped down single that caters to Rojas’ rapping style and opens up the instrumentals to feature a smooth, jazzy saxophone woven into the song. Less rap and hip hop, and more soulful, “De Ti,” pulls inspiration from modern day artists, particularly Biig Piig, a personal favorite of Rojas.
Produced, mixed and recorded by Nicolás Carrasco, AKA Foex, in Santiago, Chile, Cupido, palpitates like a steady heartbeat, revealing the internal monologues of AKACATS. From starting her career in 2018 after hanging out with a friend at a music studio to her debut album released last year, and now with this new EP, AKACATS is piecing together a vivid picture of herself as a talented and multi-dimensional musician. Initially not intending to seriously record music or even rap in general, her initial exploration into making music has expanded into a catalog of music that mixes genres and utilizes specific elements from them to construct a sparkling ocean of sound.
Words: Patti Sanchez
For more on AKACATS, make sure to follow her on Instagram.